Thursday, April 29, 2010

What would you like your Obituary to Read?

I know this is a really depressing title. As Christian Working Moms are main focus has to be on being followers of Christ. I read the most depressing obituary in the my Bible reading this morning. Listen to 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, "Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse."

Saul started out following God and obeying God's commands, but he didn't end His life that way. The Christian walk is about being faithful over time. Not starting off with a burst of energy and finishing with a fizzle. We need to faithfully follow God's commands over our entire life.

Listen to this verse that tells us how we are to live, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8.

Saul violated the verse in Micah by believing his own press. What I mean is Saul often got the big head and didn't think he needed to consult God. Saul decided he could do things his own way. Didn't turn out well at all for Saul.

Now it is your turn. What does God's word lived out mean when it says to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God? How do we live that out in our daily lives?

May we as Christians have an obituary that reflects Micah 6:8 much more than 1 Chronicles 10:13. May our entire life reflect back on God and for His glory.

Please share your thoughts and living out Micah 6:8.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What we can learn from the Israelites?

Right now in my own Bible study I'm reading through the book of Judges. I'm struck by the same type of verse I see over and over. Often, the verse says: "The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of ____________. "
The people of Israel were given into the hands of various enemies due to their idol worship and many other sins. Another thing I noticed as I read Judges is the time of being in the hands of their enemy increased over time. Also, in chapter 4 of Judges you will read about a woman warrior named Deborah and Jael a woman who put a tent peg in a man's head with a hammer and killed him. Talk about tough women!!

Judges is actually very hard and sad to read. There is this continual rebellion of God's people, repentance, following God for awhile, rebellion again pattern. The Israelites don't seem to get it. They reject God's holiness and His ways. Also, we see God's anger for their rebellion. Judges 2:12 says,"And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger."

The Israelites would cry out to God and God would deliver them most of the time. Read these most disturbing verses in Judges 10:10-16. God eventually delivers Israel once again but at first God says go to your other gods you worship and get help from them.

So, what does all of this have to do with us, today? As a child reading about the Israelites I remember saying, "Why don't they get it? Just serve God and everything will be okay?" Yet, they continued to sin. Today we do not have Baal or Asheroth poles that we worship, but we do have our idols. Idols can be anything we put above God including, children, spouse, etc. Do we spend more time on the computer than we do with God?

God waits for us patiently to return to Him, but his patience is not limitless. What I observed in Judges is the Israelites began to rebel for longer and longer periods of time before repentance. They indulged in their sin and became callous to the things of God. In some places they didn't even know it was a sin anymore to worship idols.

We can never take our sin and rebellion lightly. God does not. He is a Holy God and requires perfection. The only way we can be in His presence is through Christ work on the cross and Christ righteousness. We need to be serious about catching our sin early and not letting it continue to where we have a hard heart towards sin and we wink at our own sin.

Here are some things to consider:

1. What people or things in my life do I put above God?

2. What sin in my life have I been ignoring and unwilling to deal with?

3. Ask God to show you your sin and repent of your sin. Repent means to turn away from sin and to be different. Walk in the other direction.

4. Is there a pattern in my life of walking closely with God and then rebelling? Is the rebelling time starting to last longer than the walking close with God time? Then, there needs to be a change.

5. Another big error of the Israelites was forgetting what God had done for them in Egypt and many other things. Do you forget what God has done for you in the past? Do you doubt His goodness? Take time to thank him for He has done for you over the years and His faithfulness in spite of your walk with Him.

6. Can we strive to not be like the Israelites of the Old Testament and walk closely with God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and leave the rebellion behind.

God is our deliverer. Yet, He expects obedience. When we are being disobedient and unrepentant how can we expect God to deliver us?

May we all learn from the mistakes of the Israelites. Please share your feedback and comments on this study.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Are you settling for less than the best from God?

My church is involved in a Read your Bible through in a year plan. Right now I'm in Numbers. I'll be honest the book of Numbers is at times hard to get through. Yet, I found an important nugget in Numbers during my study this morning. Please read Numbers chapter 32.

A little background this time period is right before the Hebrews are to go in and conquer the Promised Land. We have two tribes Reuben and Gad that are looking with earthly eyes. They see the land they just conquered from Midian and it looks pretty good to them. So, they ask Moses can we have this land it looks great. Now these people had not yet seen the Promised Land so they didn't even know what could be their land.

Several important things we can learn from this chapter.

1. The tribes of Reuben and Gad were pretty selfish. They wanted the land and at first were not going to join the fight to take the promised land.

2. They have a limited vision. In other words, they weren't willing to wait to see what they would get in the future; they wanted what they could see right now.

3. The tribes were repeating the sins of their fathers. They wanted to take a known and not wait for an unknown.

4. Moses makes them promise they will fight and then says they can have the land that they want. So, Moses with God's direction gives them what they want. God often gave them Hebrews what they wanted even when it wasnt best for them. The Hebrews would then realize they made a mistake and repent.

So, what does all of this have to say to us? The tribes of Reuben and Gad settled for land they could see instead of the Promised Land that was in the future that could have been so much better. They were not willing to wait for the best land. As CWMs how many times do we stop early before God's complete plan is revealed? We settle for something that is good enough, but not best. I want to make it clear that I'm not talking prosperity gospel here. Prosperity gospel means you pray God will bless you financially. What I'm talking about is you may have been struggling for some time in an issue and you give up trusting God right before His solution is provided. The Hebrews had been wandering for 40 years and they are just about to cross into the Promised Land filled with everything they would need and these tribes stop just short and settle for what is seen and good enough.

Also, these tribes did not learn from the past. How many times does God have to teach you a lesson more than once before you get it? These tribes still did not get it.

Another important lesson from this chapter for us today is these tribes were interested in worldly possessions and wealth. They thought that was the best land and wanted to get "first dibs". They got their wish, but the Promised Land could have been greater in so many ways.

Here are some questions for all of us to consider:

1. Am I settling on certain issues right now instead of trusting God for a greater plan that He has?

2. Do I try to get ahead of God and figure it out for myself? (The tribes of Reuben and Gad thought they knew better than God).

3. Are my eyes focused on treasures of earth instead of laying up treasures in heaven?

4. Am I trusting God and His plan for my life?

5. Am I a woman of my word? Moses made sure the tribes kept their oaths.

There are even more lessons we could learn from this important passage of Scripture. For me I see clearly in this Scripture that if we wait on God's plan it will surprise and astound us in so many ways. When the world sees how Christians "do" things often we look like fools, because it makes no sense. The Reuben and Gad tribe found some really good land so they snapped it up. I'm sure it could have looked "foolish" to wait to see what was behind Door B. Our world wants instant answers and fixes. God most often doesn't work that way. In our waiting we grow by leaps and bounds. So, are we settling for less than best from God? May we all wait on His plan for us and not try to jump ahead of Him.

Please share what you learned from this study as well. We can all learn from one another.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Be Quiet Before Me

I am learning a very difficult lesson. God is teaching me in my devotion times with Him to be quiet before Him! That is extremely hard for me. It is hard for me to quiet my mind. Hard to stop sharing prayer requests. Hard to listen to God. Once I wrote in an article I think the scripture for today is "Be harried and know that I am God." Actually read Psalm 46. Verse 10 says Be still and know that I am God. When we are truly still before God we can be at peace. If you read all of Psalm 46 you see the power of God. Verse 6 says he (God) utters his voice, the earth melts. God is all powerful and I am not. Trusting in Him and his purposes is a lesson I have to learn over and over. I'm definitely a remedial learner in this area.

So, how do we be still and be quiet before God? One suggestion is praying in the Holy Spirit. Asking that any distractions be taken away. That your mind only focus on the things of God. Praising God before you start gets us in the right mindset.

Second, we have to learn to be comfortable with quiet. We live in a very noisy world. Since, we have children we often live in very noisy houses. Quiet can sometimes be scary. When are children are "too" quiet often we know there is trouble. Yet, being quiet before God is a precious, holy quiet. We can hear His voice much better when we quiet our hearts, minds, and mouths.

Here are some questions for you to consider and please share:

1. Are you able to be quiet before God? If not, what is the biggest obstacle?

2. In reading Psalm 46 what stood out most to you?

3. Can you share examples from scripture of when people were quiet before God? My first thought is Jesus getting alone to pray to His heavenly Father. What other examples?

4. Here is a hard question. How can we teach our children to be quiet before God?

5. What is one thing you could change or implement in your own devotional time in order to learn to be quiet before Him?

Maybe I'm the only one who needs to hear Be Quiet, but somehow I doubt it. There is power in the quiet and there is enormous strength in being quiet before God. I really look forward to hearing what you have to say. Please share your thoughts.

Monday, September 7, 2009

How do you Worship?

Worship is such an important part of our lives as Christians. Yet, sometimes we think worship is for Sunday morning only or when we are at church. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For this lesson I would like for us to look at Psalm 95 and 96. Read both of those Psalms and look at how the psalmist worshipped God.

In Psalm 95 in the first 5 verses we see that the psalmist cannot seem to think of enough ways to praise the Lord. The psalmist shares that we are to make a joyful noise before the Lord when we sing. I had a choir director from my youth who often made the statement about making a joyful noise. It doesn't necessarily say sing on key, but a joyful noise.

A very important clue is in verses 6 and 7 of Psalm 95. We are told to bow down, kneel and worship. The first few verse are about making a joyful noise. These verses are about being quiet, reflective and reverent in our worship.

Why is this contrast so important to us? There are many ways to worship God. Some people are comfortable singing, dancing, and having their hands in the air. Others feel extremely uncomfortable with such outward emotion. So, some enjoy worshipping quietly and listening to God. The wonderful thing about this for us is both styles of worship are described in the Bible. One is not right and one is not wrong. Worship is a time to thank and praise God for all his mighty works. When we worship we remember God's faithfulness to us no matter our style.

In verses 8-11 of Psalm 95 we see a troubling lack of worship. These verses talk about the Israelites in the wilderness and how they did not trust God. They often were in rebellion and complained. Their punishment was a entire generation that did not enter the promised land.

So we see a contrast between a worshipper and a rebellious complaining people.

God takes worship of Him very seriously. It is not an after thought. It is not even a once a week event. Worship should be in our hearts daily. We should find as many opportunities as possible to praise God.

Read Psalm 96 and see all the many different ways God can be praised and worshipped.

Why is worship important? When we get our eyes off ourselves and on to God we often get a right perspective of our situations. After all God has done for us how can we not worship Him?
We literally could thank Him non-stop and not run out of things to say to Him.

Let me ask you a few questions and if you are comfortable, please share your answers:

1. In your quiet time how much time do you spend time praising God and how much time do you spend telling Him your wants and needs?

2. Can I encourage you to spend one whole quiet time worshipping God and nothing else?

3. What is your favorite way to worship? Sing praise songs, be in nature, listen to God's voice, etc.?

4. Do you have a hard time getting still or quiet enough to worship?

5. Do you take opportunities to worship God throughout the day?

Praising God should always be on the tip of our tongues. Worship is a gift we give to God to celebrate Him and all of His goodness to us. May we not be lack the Israelites and be in rebellion and be complainers.

I look forward to hearing how you worship and any ideas you may have.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Secret

Read Paul's secret to success in life, Philippians 4:11-13. Paul wrote Philippians while sitting in jail, yet he could say I'm content in all circumstances, because Christ strengthens me. Our entire society seems to be discontented. In fact, it feels like we are all becoming drama queens. Every little thing becomes major. Do you see that with your children as well? Yet Paul had this inner peace. He knew because Christ lived in him that even if the worst thing happened he would be okay, due to Christ power. Pretty convicting!! I would encourage you to read all of Philippians. Philippians is often called the Epistles of Joy. Paul repeatedly say his joy is not based on circumstances, but on Christ. Here are some questions to consider and please share if you are comfortable:

1. Is my contentment based on my circumstances or my relationship with Christ?

2. What or whom steals my contentment the most?

3. How can I start living in Christ strength instead of my own?

4. If the worst thing happens in my life that I can imagine, will God still be on his throne
and in control?

5. How can I daily rejoice in the Lord always?

One of the things in studying these verses that truly stood out to me was Paul said he had learned to be content in all circumstances. So, Paul didn't come by it automatically he grew to learn to be content. So, we may not get there over night, but we can daily work on being content in all circumstances, because Christ is our power and strength. Please share your thoughts on these verses.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What pleases God?

In the April 2009 CWM Issue we talked about some of the things that please God. Please go to this link to find more verses that talk about pleasing God. After you complete the study, share some of the insights you learned from these verses.