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Archive for the tag “God’s character”

His Love Endures

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind – His love endures forever. It’s the message from the 136th Psalm, which recounts the Israelite’s journey with the response of God’s love enduring forever as He carried them through as they reached the Promised Land. With that thought on my mind, I recalled the books that I have read over the last three weeks. Three different books with one theme – God carries us through those tough times because of His love for us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The first book was the real life story of enduring brain trauma by Laura Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It). Her husband had a brain tumor that was removed but complications set in. When they got married, they expected a perfect life. But one and a half years in, their lives took an unexpected turn. Their story will never be perfect. Their lives are hard because God didn’t fix the problem or heal Laura’s husband. But God still carries them through. God’s love endures forever.

The next book I read was from Jerry Jenkins (Though None Go with Me) about a modern-day version of the account of Job, if he was a woman set in the early 20th century. The story is about the tragedy of this woman’s life as she endured the hardships of loss, misfortune and loneliness through the ages. She dedicated her life to God at an early age as the “experiment of obedience.” Through all the hard times, she could have cursed God; but she remembered her dedication on that day when she gave it all to Him. The pastor told her on that day that her life would not be easy. And it wasn’t. But through it all, God carried her through. God’s love endures forever.

The last book I finished yesterday was from Francine Rivers called Tamar. It’s a fictional account of the historical story of Judah and Tamar. The story is found in Genesis 38, set in the middle of the account of Joseph’s story. It’s like a little rabbit trail that the writer takes us on as we read through Joseph’s life. I’ll get back to Francine’s story in a minute. This account of Judah’s life is interesting to me.

Early on in my life, I thought Jesus’ line came through Joseph, not Judah. I mean, Joseph got the most write-up, right? So wouldn’t it stand to reason, God had selected him for the role in Jesus’ lineage? Joseph was the righteous one not Judah. Judah did a great injustice to Joseph. However, Judah played a role for God to bring Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to save the Israelites. Judah does step up in the end of the story to help right the wrong, but I don’t know why Judah was God’s man; especially after the story of Tamar. Do you know the story?

Tamar was a Canaanite woman who was given to Er, Judah’s first born son, to be his wife. Er did what was wrong in the sight of God, and God took him out of the picture. Tamar was given to the second son, Onan. Again, he also did what was wrong in the sight of God, and he too was taken out. So Tamar is without a son to carry on Judah’s line, but there was a third son. However, after two sons dying; Judah was not inclined to give this girl another chance. So she was sent back home.

After a time, she realizes Judah is not going to do the honorable thing and takes matters into her own hands. After Judah’s wife dies, Tamar sets up a plan to deceive Judah by playing a temple prostitute. The plan works; she conceives twins. One of those twins, Perez, is the one who is in the line of Jesus. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Francine’s book is about the fictional account from Tamar’s point of view. Although Tamar was a Canaanite, she began to believe in Judah’s God (fictional account). God carried her through the tragedies that she endured through those harsh times. Because Tamar did what she needed to do to carry on Judah’s line, God blessed her and gave her two sons for Judah. Judah did the right thing in the end. And maybe the story of Judah finally taking responsibility for Joseph was because of Tamar. In the end, Judah’s line continues because of God’s love endures forever.

These books made me think of God’s love for us. He really does carry us through; not because of us and our goodness, but because of His goodness and His love for us. His love does endure forever. We are His creation. He called all that He had made very good. We don’t always do what’s right in His sight. But He loves us anyway. His love is shown through His Son. His Son is our example of His love enduring forever. That truly is very good. Thank you, Jesus for Your constant love for us. Believe it and let Him carry you through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-4

 

David’s Heart

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a video on Facebook of a four-year old worship leader. He was quite cute. The boy was on Steve Harvey’s show Little Big Shots (I think that’s the name). Soon after that I heard a couple of messages about worship. All this has me thinking about worship, and my effort to honor and glorify God through my worship time. God created us to worship. It’s naturally in us to worship.

One pastor mentioned that our worship is not about us but about God. We get it all wrong when we think we’re supposed to “get something” out of our Sunday morning “service” – it’s all about what we feel as we listen to the music or hear the word preached – did it move us? Instead, we should be more concerned with how we are worshiping – is our heart in it? Is our focus on God? Is the heart moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do we feel an overflow coming from our hearts?

Another message focused on worship as a lifestyle. Worship is more than just singing. Worship is really living our lives in response to who God is and what He has done. Everything that we do can be a way of worshipping God. When we live our lives, fulfilling our God-designed destiny with the gifts and talents He has given us; we worship Him through our surrender lives. Worship is so much more than a Sunday morning experience. We glorify and honor God because of who He is and what He’s done. Having a life of worship makes me think of King David. He modeled the life of worship.

Whenever David poured out his heart to God, David either started the Psalm with praise or ended the Psalm with praise or both. He never let the opportunity pass without offering praise to God. He was after all the man after God’s own heart. But David was not perfect – far from it. Yet, God was pleased with David because of David’s heart. David pursued God with all his heart (as we all should). We are told in Deuteronomy 6:5, to love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the heart of worship. When Jesus was questioned, which is the greatest commandment? He replied with the passage from Deuteronomy 6:5.

Our desire is to worship. Sometimes though, we get it wrong. Our hearts chase after the wrong thing. It’s so easy to do in this day and age. We put too much emphasis on people or things. Sports teams, sports stars, movie stars, husbands, wives, children, etc. We fail to understand people and things will always let us down. Worship is said to come from the term “worth ship” – there is only One who is worth worshipping.

I remember a time in my childhood when my grandparents took me to a church conference. While everyone was singing, men and women were running around the room praising God. It’s a very vivid memory; and at the time, scared me a bit. I remember asking my Grandmother “what’s wrong with that man?” as an older man dressed in white clothes ran down the aisle beside us. She reassured me with a pat on the leg and everything was alright.

My time of worship is nothing like that. Sometimes I think of that demonstration and wonder why I can’t be as enthusiastic as that man? Not that I would get up and run around a room. But I should in my heart! I should have a heart that would chase God around the room! What would our lives look like if we had that kind of passion for God?

It reminds me of the passage in 1 Chronicles 15 where David is escorting the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. As the procession enters the City of David (Jerusalem), David skipped about and was full of joy. His wife Michal, looked on him with contempt for his undignified demonstration. David replied to Michal (found in 2 Samuel 6:21) that he was dancing before the Lord because of what the Lord had done for him. The Lord had given David a promise. The Lord had promised that a forever king would come through his line. And David believed God’s promise. And it was eventually fulfilled through Jesus Christ – the promised heir in the forever Kingdom.

We might not have a promise as great as the promise given to David, but God is faithful in all His promises – great and small. We can count on God. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of our worship. He will never fail us. He is trustworthy. Our lives are a reflection of what we believe about God. What we do with those promises, how we live in reference to our beliefs; this is truly our worship as we respond to who God is and what He has done. Worship is an overflow of the heart. Just like David, we can be men and women after God’s heart. Chase Him down!

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.

Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;

rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him. 1 Chronicles 16:8-11 (NLT)

The Mini Meltdown

For the last month or so, I have been praying for a miracle. I had in mind that it should happen around Friday (due to my immediate needs). It didn’t happen. The enemy had a field day with me. I gave him every opportunity to attack me when I was vulnerable. My physical appearance didn’t change, but my emotionally charged inner child ranted and raved at God. I am so glad we serve a patient God. God let me have my say without striking down with an angered response (which He had every right to). My feelings were hurt. I was greatly disappointed. Why hasn’t He directed me out of my circumstances? Why am I still waiting for something to happen? What am I waiting on? I thought God was in this with me. But for the life of me, I don’t understand why I am in the mess I’m in. I thought I was doing what I was called to do. I thought I had been obedient. On and on; tears rolling; red eyes swollen. I just couldn’t get past it. I was stuck in that place.

Friday night, I sat down to eat my supper and tuned into one of my favorite websites for a short word on whatever the topic of the day was. I listened to Monday’s broadcast because that was the only one that really interested me. The topic was about a woman’s story of how she moved to Haiti because of God’s direction. Her story was pretty amazing… again God you did it for her, why not me? Blah, blah, blah. Pity party of one, this way please! After finishing my meal, out of the blue, one of my friends called me. She normally doesn’t call often, but on this night she felt led to do so. With her call, I got out of myself and focused on someone else’s life. We caught up on the details with one another and called it a night. When I laid down that night I was still upset about my circumstances.

I woke up once during the night, and still had the events on my mind. I got up from my bed to write a letter to get out the anger, the hurt and all the things that had welled up within. In the morning, I was feeling a bit better. I began my quiet time with an apology to God for my mini-meltdown. I opened the Word and began to listen as I read. Now that I was ready to hear, three things were brought to my attention.

First off – when I was watching the video on Friday night, the woman kept repeating this phrase “God was telling her she was not alone in her circumstances.” God reminded me that this was true for me as well. I noticed her using the phrase a couple of times, but didn’t internalize it until Saturday morning. He also reminded me of my friend’s call. Sometimes I feel so alone. My Mom used to say she didn’t have any friends, but she had so many friends who truly believed she was their best friend. It’s hard to resist the lies of the enemy when we are in that pit of despair.

Second. I began to read about contentment from Beth Moore’s commentary in the “Voices of the Faithful” for August. She wrote “Contentment has little to do with what we have or lack. It is a state of mind.” She went on to write about Paul’s explanation of contentment found in Philippians. “Paul explained that Christ had used circumstances to disciple Paul in the art of contentment. Discovering the power and the presence of Christ in every circumstance was the secret.” I am okay with my circumstances most of the time. Friday was the exception not the rule. I was disappointed. I was frustrated. And I was acting out in my flesh. God is working in my current circumstances for a greater work in me. God is working to grow me up.

The last thing that was brought to my attention was from Charles Stanley’s monthly devotion for Saturday’s reading. Again, he pointed to Paul and Philippians. Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. The letter is full of rejoicing and praising God. Each sentence in this devotional was like God speaking into my heart every word on that page. The direction was to “focus on Christ instead of the circumstances – God will comfort your heart and bring you safely through the trial.” Dr. Stanley mentioned that focusing on Christ is neither a natural reaction nor an easy one. He said to dwell on His provision (even when we don’t see it) and care instead (even when we feel alone). Believe in God’s character – which never changes. All it takes is a glimmer of hope to get out of the pit of despair.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

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