April 26, 2011

How Great Thou Art

Thanks to Laine for bringing my attention to this heart stopping version of Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill singing "How Great Thou Art." Incredible. Had to share!

Five years of Jesus Calling!

I will never forget reading April 26th Jesus Calling in 2006. The message was so poignant to me and it made me look at my life in a different way. Let me share:

Welcome problems as perspective lifters. My children tend to sleepwalk through their days until the bump into an obstacle that stymies them. If you encounter a problem with no immediate solution, your response to that situation can take you either up or down. You can lash out at that difficulty, resenting it and feeling sorry for yourself. This will take you down into a pit of self pity. Alternatively, the problem can be a ladder, enabling you to climb up and see your life from My perspective. Viewed from above, the obstacle that frustrated you is only a light and momentary trouble. Once your perspective has been heightened, you can look away from the problem altogether. Turn toward Me, and see the Light of My Presence shining upon you.

Those first two words blew me away. Welcome problems? I did not think those words belonged in the same sentence together. The more I considered this, however, it made sense. In John 16, Jesus promises his disciples that they WILL have problems in this world, however, in the same breath, he tells them to take heart because he has overcome the world.

The planner in me does not like to allow for problems or roadblocks that I see as unnecessary in my finite wisdom. As a result, I used to lock up when situations didn't go "my way." These words started me down a new path--or should I say--up a ladder--where I began to strive to look for God's hand in unexpected situations instead of wasting time being upset. I still struggle with this, but I'm thankful for a God who is patient and continues to teach me.

April 24, 2011

Heavenly Easter

How Great Thou Art

Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook, and feel he gentle breeze;

And when I think that God his son not sparing,
Sent him to die - I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home- what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

This evening at church we finished up a sermon series and focused on "The Kingdom of Jesus." The resurrection is really just the beginning--it is the trumpet blast that triggers this LIFE that we now have the ability to live. Our hope is in Jesus' coming back to life after dying (in our place) for our sin. When I was reading over John 20 today, I could not help but think of the early followers of Jesus and how sad and confused they must have been after he was crucified. To think that their leader was dead--if I were one of them I would have wondered if everything I had staked my life on until that point was a lie. What a painful thought! Thankfully they only had to spend 3 days in despair before their hopes soared and Mary Magdalene saw Jesus, her teacher and Lord, in the garden that morning.

So...now that we have the resurrection, what does that give the Christian to look forward to? Well, a life of eternity that we will spend with God. However, we are not to fall into the secular trap that heaven will consist of fluffy clouds and angels playing harps all day. This does not sound particularly appealing to me. Our passage tonight was Isaiah 65:17-25- read here. On the contrary, Isaiah tells us that heaven and earth will a place where there is no more weeping, sadness or sickness. We will be BUSY: "They shall build houses and inhabit them they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands." (vs 21-22) However, this work will not be in vain or for others to enjoy--we will be the direct beneficiaries. I'm not sure how all of this will play out exactly, but the thought of it thrills me. God created work--and work has such a negative connotation in our society--that I cannot wait to see was "perfected work" is like.

What else do we have to look forward to? Verse 24 tells us that God knows what we want before we can ask for it-- a level of knowing us that most people can only dream of finding in another person. This brings me to an earthly check for myself--do I know God well enough where I feel like I can finish his sentences and vice versa? Am I spending enough time in the word and prayer to foster a close relationship with him?

The best realization of Easter for me is the reminder that death is the beginning for the Christian. After death, we will be perfected--we will "blossom in places we didn't know we had buds"--we will be nurtured by the Creator and Perfecter of the Universe, the One who selflessly gave His life for us. As the day closes, I am thankful for Jesus' sacrificial love that allows me the chance to live for Him--each and every day.

Amen!

April 18, 2011

Bread from Heaven

I just re-read Exodus 16, where the Israelites are first given manna during their 40 years in the wilderness. It's a great story--I encourage you to read it now by clicking here.

Moses commanded the Israelites to only take enough for one day--but some of them didn't listen and took more. The result was that it was rotted and filled with worms. Then, in verse 22, he tells them to gather enough for 2 days, since there will be no manna to gather on the Sabbath. Some of the Israelites didn't gather extra and as a result they were hungry.

My first reaction when I read this is to think, "How dumb could the Israelites be?! They had SPECIFIC instructions from Moses who had specific instructions from God, yet they didn't follow them!" As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I began to think about my own life and how I don't always trust that God will provide what I need when I need it. I want to "store up" my manna "in case God doesn't come through." Or, I don't follow his guidance and neglect prayer, thus missing out of the benefits of gathering manna and storing it up.

The good news is that God has an abundance of resources that we can never deplete. However, he wisely only promises us grace and peace for TODAY. If we were allowed to store up "manna" or "peace" we might begin to feel self sufficient and forget that we truly rely on God for everything.

So, let's be thankful that we have a God who is good enough to provide us with all that we need but wise enough to only give us what we need when we need it. His mercy is perfect!