Blogs that Engage Your Faith
|Posted on August 1, 2017 at 2:45 PM||comments (0)|
"Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! 7 I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness." (Ps 55:6–7 NLT)
I love these verses from David. They explain the way I feel about the times where I get away to fish or golf or just spend time in nature. It is like I fly far away to a quiet place where I can just be and not be somebody or someone.
Sometimes being a pastor means people see you as a pastor and not just a follower of Christ. Sometimes being a pastor means people see you as their personal spiritual advisor and not just as someone who is trying their best, failing sometimes and soaring other times, to follow Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength!
That is why I need to get away to a place of rest (even though golf and fishing in their own right is NOT always restful) where I can just simply BE!
And here is what I know about you because this is true for me and that is you need your own place of REST where you can just be you and not Mom, Dad, brother, son, daughter, Grandma, Grandpa, employee, or whatever your titles may be in life's journey.
Praying you find a place of REST that works for you and that you allow yourself the ability to go there from time-to-time GUILT FREE!
|Posted on July 26, 2017 at 1:35 PM||comments (0)|
"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God..." (Ps 50:14a NLT)
God does not require the sacrifices that were once part of the picture in the OT because of the NT covenant sealed by the blood of Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
However, the psalmists often spoke of the kind of sacrifices that God desired and interestingly they were not the ones that religious people offered in that day and time.
Here is a redefining moment in this psalm of Asaph. And it comes after God clearly rejects the notion that He needs all those religious sacrifices. Check it out:
"O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God! 8 I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. 9 But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. 10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. 13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?" (Ps. 50:7-13 NLT)
The REALITY is instead of all these outward things, God desires our THANKFULNESS as a sign of His presence and place in our lives!
He desires an INWARD sign rather than an OUTWARD sign as our sacrifice to Him. In other words, He desires that we live with an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness as His people. And why not? For all we have and all we are is because of Him and His place in our lives as His people!
You know, I have never thought of this reality much and it is really a very challenging thing to consider. How often do we live with an attitude of gratitude? How often is thankfulness the first thing on the list of the many things that compete for our hearts, minds, and lives?
I guess this is an important thing to consider for sure, especially in light of this psalm of Asaph. What are you thankful for today? What am I thankful for today? Can you list at least 3 things? What are you grateful for today? What am I grateful for today? What are your top 3 grateful things in your life?
Seeking to please Him by expressing and living in thankfulness and gratefulness today and always,
|Posted on July 5, 2017 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
"You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping."
~Psalm 18:36 NLT
Psalm 18 is a psalm of David where he describes the victory that God had given him and the safety that he had provided for him as Saul continually sought to kill him. David had been living with the Philistine's for several years away from his wives and his land of Judah. When the Philistine people combined their warriors to battle Saul and his armies David went to follow them into battle. BUT the Kings of the different regions of the Philistines other than King Achish whom David was serving did not want the former Philistine killer to accompany them into battle. So King Achish had to send David away, asking him to return to his homeland.
When David returned home with his troops he found that part of the Philistine army had attacked his land and his hometown. They took his wives, his children and many of his livestock and wealth. They did the same to those who were faithful to David and had spent the time with him in exile.
So David asks God IF he should chase after the robbers and raiders and the Lord commands David to chase them down and return what was rightfully theirs. David does that and victory is secured for him by God and he is able to rescue their wives, children, and possessions.
Around the same time, the other Philistine armies attacked Saul and his armies. They royally destroy them and in the process Saul, Jonathan, and others are killed. This secures the pathway for David to eventually become the King of both Israel and Judah. A pathway that David describes so eloquently in this verse of Psalm 18.
The REALITY is God's ways and His plans and purposes provide a WIDE pathway for doing this thing called the journey of life and faith. They provide the framework for God to lead, guide, and direct our lives. They provide the means by which the blessings and protection of God flow into our lives. They provide a firm foundation for the journey that we are all on together. Which is why it is so important for every one of us to be in the WORD on a daily basis. His WORD to us is the means by which God provides us with understanding and wisdom for life and daily living. Without the WORD in our lives the pathway narrows, becomes more slippery, and can eventually crumble all around us!
Choosing to keep the pathway secure and wide!
|Posted on June 26, 2017 at 12:20 PM||comments (0)|
"As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you."
~1 Samuel 12:23–24 NLT
This morning's reading in my chronological journey through the Bible this year brought me to a very familiar verse. It's a verse I was introduced to in my time at Fresno Pacific University where I served for just over 2 years as Associate Campus Pastor.
"As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you."
~1 Sam. 12:23a
This verse was our theme verse for our peer chaplaincy program at the University. It was chosen by our campus pastor who started the program and it was the first time I was introduced to this reality - it is a SIN not to pray!
In this passage, Israel's leader for many years, the prophet Samuel tells the people in his farewell speech, which occurred right after Saul being made King, that it is a SIN not to pray. It is a SIN not to pray for those God has placed around you. It is a SIN not to pray for your family, your friends, your church family. It is a SIN not to pray for your neighbourhood, your community, your country, and the world. It is a SIN not to pray for your leaders, both sacred and secular.
BUT here's the thing! IF you are like me there are many times where it is difficult or challenging to find time to pray. And even more so it is difficult some times with the scattered nature of my life to find things to pray for! Even though I know as I type this that there are always many things to pray for, there are days where prayer just doesn't come easy to me.
Nevertheless, the prophet is certainly right. We are called to be people of prayer. We are commanded to pray for one another. We are called to lift up the hurting and the flourishing alike. We are commissioned to petition our God in every matter that we face and that face those around us.
Listen once again to the words of Paul, found in his letter to the churches in the ancient city of Philippi:
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6-8 NLT
Prayer is not always easy but there are so many positive realities that come from being persistent in prayer. And the biggest positive reality is that it brings use squarely into the presence of our God, which is exactly where we need to be. And I also believe that is why Samuel is able to make this statement before the people of God.
As for me, far be it for me, to SIN against the Lord by not praying today!
|Posted on June 13, 2017 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
"So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true." ~Joshua 21:43–45 NLT
In this chapter of the chronicles of Joshua's leadership, the author records for us some amazing words as the land has been conquered and divided up amongst the tribes of Israel.
First, he writes that the Lord gave them all he had sworn to give their ancestors who had disobeyed and defied Him. Call it irony, or call it destiny, call it what you may, but what amazes me in this statement is the complete and utter character of our God. Despite the disobedience and disloyalty He kept His promise that He had made to Abraham and all that followed after him. The land was sworn to be theirs and despite the nation's best efforts to destroy God's promises to them, God kept His end of the covenant and allowed them to possess the land He had promised to their parents and grandparents.
Secondly, he writes that the Lord gave them rest on every side. Once again, we see another promise fulfilled. God promised them the land and rest from their efforts and their enemies! The battles had been won, the wars had ended, and now the people of Israel were given rest. Now, this is not the idea of "shalom" but it comes from another Hebrew word that best translates, "to rest, settle down and remain." God allowed them to enter the land that only had been gazed upon in the past and then He gave them rest, allowing them to settle down. And with that rest came the sense that they were there for the long haul. With God by their side they would remain in this amazing land promised to them many years before this moment in time.
Finally, the author tells us that through it all "NONE" of all the GOOD PROMISES that God had given to Joshua and to the nation had failed to come true! God had kept "ALL" His promises to them and they were now able to rest, settle down, and enjoy the land that was described as flowing with milk and honey! They were able to enjoy the abundance and peace because God had fought for them and was continuing to hold back their enemies from destroying the promises He had made to them!
Personally, I think this last line is the one that grabs my heart this morning as I read this passage in my devotional time. The reality that not a single one of "ALL" the GOOD PROMISES that God had made to them was left unfulfilled! What an amazing promise! But there's even better GOOD NEWS and that is, our God is UNCHANGING! Which simply means, that He is the same today as He was then, and as He will always be! And because of that the promises that He makes through His WORD to us are promises that He WILL fulfill!
God's promises, and there are many, are for Joshua's time and us today. They are for us, for our children, and for generations to come until Christ calls us home or He returns! What amazing news to be reminded of today, that the one who CALLS us desires to fulfill His promises in and through us today, tomorrow, and for eternity!
Standing in awe of His FAITHFULNESS,