Monday, August 18, 2014

One Important Reason We Can Hope for the Impossible

My cousin and I spent two days at the coast this week. We watched the waves, we listened to the ocean while we slept, and we contemplated the majesty of our Creator.

The ocean always reminds me there’s a greater reason why I exist, why I can trust, and why the impossible is not so impossible.

Because the God of all the earth created that.

 “In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exod. 20:11).
“He made the earth by his power” (Jer. 10:12).
“With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

How many of us have requests we bring to God daily—impossible requests we keep bringing to Him?

We bring our requests to Him because He’s the God of power.
He’s the LORD of hosts. The LORD of ALL the powerful, heavenly hosts.

We hope, we pray, we trust in a God of power.

And as the hymn writer reminds us:

 “God’s great power guards every hour.” – Johann Franck

Our hours. 
The world and all things in it.
Our hopes and cares and days and years.

The LORD of hosts guards it all.

The one important reason we can hope for the impossible.

"Earth and all its depths adore him,
Silent bow before Him."
-- Johann Franck
(taken from“Jesus, Priceless Treasure”)

Monday, August 11, 2014

How to Get There When You Don't Have a Road Map

Have you ever wished that birth certificates came with road maps and that life offered a few more directions along the way?

Life often looks like one giant highway full of bends in the road, four-way stops, and endless freeway with no assurance that you’re going to actually get there.

God doesn't leave us directions, a map, or a voice mail that assures us we’re headed in the right direction.

Maybe because He knows us too well.

 “God doesn’t give us a map because we’d follow the map and not Him.” – Allen Arnold

Our family used to go camping when we were small. One year, when I was six or seven, we hiked up part of Mt. Jefferson.

The snow was deep.  Too deep for my small legs to find their own footing.

Instead, my dad went ahead of me, and all I had to do was step into his giant foot prints.

I was safe as long as he’d already been there, and I knew the way as long as I stayed close behind.

Psalm 85:13 tells us our Heavenly Father “makes His footsteps our pathway.”

He doesn’t hope we’ll find the path.

He makes it for us by going ahead.

We find our way by staying close behind.

Like a child.

Not trusting our steps, but watching for His and stepping into them with full assurance.

He “makes His footsteps our pathway.”

We don’t need a road map to life.

Just childlike faith.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with my eye.” (Psalm 32:8)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Where to Go When You Feel Like Rejoicing in What God Has Done

You don’t have to live very long to learn that life’s paths involve Red Seas—crossroads in life that look to us like insurmountable obstacles.

Life brings us to barriers marked by “No Outlet” signs and roads that end with no way around or through.

We all face stops in life that leave us doing only one thing—looking up.

We’ve watched the Lord step into our impossible roads and create paths we never dreamed possible.

We’ve watched Him bring us to gateways and new roads and different journeys that left the Red Seas looking like puddles.

Our God is that big.

The kind of God that sees Red Seas and obstacles and ends of the road as opportunites to step in and “provide from [His] goodness” (Psalm 68:10).

“He is awesome in His doing . . . He rules by His power forever” (Psalm 66:5,7).

He opens the way and sets our feet on new paths of blessing.

And we’re left rejoicing when we thought tears would be our food for years.

The Psalmist was there, but he found the perfect place to rejoice.

 “Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice” (Psalm 63:7)

He still went to the safety of God’s wings, even when God had worked and all he felt like doing was rejoicing.

You and I never stop needing Him.
After we’ve watched Him work, we still need the safety of His wings.
We still need to look up.

When we feel like rejoicing in what God has done, the best place to go is the place of praise that is still a place of trust.

Rejoice in that place of trust.

It is here that God continues to work.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Of Plastic Fruit and That One Thing We Know for Sure

Recently, a friend reminded me of something one of our college professors used to say,

 “Have you ever seen a tree branch sweat?”

Christ said He is the true vine, we are the branches, and apart from Him we can do nothing (see John 15).

How many of us are like a branch that works and sweats, but only produces what my friend calls “plastic fruit”?

We stick “plastic fruit” on the otherwise unproductive branches of our lives and the result is fruit that looks good from a distance, but is worse than no fruit at all.

We all have heroes of Scripture. I think the blind man who was healed by Jesus and confronted by the Pharisees is on my top ten list (John 9).

Boldly, he told only what he knew, and that truth shot arrows at the religious hypocrisy of the day.

Blind for years, but healed in a moment, he had this to say to the questions and doubts and plastic fruit of the religious leaders,

“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).

Putting on an outward show didn't even enter the equation for this man. Christ had done everything for him, and that's all that mattered.
One thing we know for sure: We were blind once, but now we see.

That’s really all we need to know.

Anything we do and any effort that that doesn’t magnify that truth is plastic fruit—a show of good, but lacking anything life-sustaining.

One thing is for sure.

Christ stepped into your life and mine when we were blind, and He gave us sight.

We didn’t receive sight out of sweat and tears.

He performed that miracle.

That alone is fruit enough to share.

Real fruit.

Only Christ can produce fruit through your life and mine.

The One who gives sight to the blind.

Who did that for us.

Who can do that for others.

The one thing we know for sure.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Only Answer for a Broken Life

He was standing at the corner of a busy intersection just waiting to cross.

Standing there while many drove right on by—living their broken lives.

I noticed this man for one reason only.

A Bible was tucked under his arm.

An unusual sight on a corner like that one.
Unusual in our city.
And unusual in our day.

When did the only answer for a broken life become unusual? 

Why is God’s Word hated? Forgotten? Left on a shelf?

Left unopened?

She sat across from me, and I asked her if she went to church.

“No. I’m divorced and single again. I need my weekends to catch up.”

“Do you read the Bible during the week then?” I quietly asked.

Because she needs God’s Word.

We each need God’s Word.

Life's too broken to keep our Bibles closed.

“I’ve never read the whole Bible,” he admitted.

Then he grinned. “I always fall asleep.”

He had told me about his very broken life.

And God’s Word remains closed?

God spoke and galaxies were set in motion, birds flew, and a man breathed his first breath.

God spoke.

And “how small a whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 26:14)

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The Word spoke words from a cross, and redeeming words have transformed millions of lives.

God’s words are written down.
Words that heal.
Words that save.

Sufficient words.

And our Bibles remain closed.

We’re too busy; too tired.

We drive on by, and miss the man on the corner with a Bible tucked under his arm.

A Bible read.

A Bible used.

A Bible opened and consumed is the only answer for a broken life.

"Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." (Jer. 15:16)