kNOw God, kNOw Love

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…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… Joshua 24:15

Love. Isn’t that what we all long for? To be accepted, valued, included, secure… What if I said, we all have it… but the real question is if we’ll choose it.

Joseph could have lashed out at the lack of love he felt from his family but in Genesis 50:19 he responds, Am I God, that I can punish you? and he even goes a step further in saying, I will continue to take care of you… AND he reassures his family by, speaking kindly to them... (vs. 21).

WHAT?! I tell ya what, that is not the worlds way is it! The world is quick to validate a wrong for a wrong. But Joseph, Joseph displayed a higher source of strength within. A source others took notice of. Genesis 41:37 states, Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?

In Exodus 1 when the Hebrew midwives are ordered by Pharaoh to kill all the baby boys, verse 17 states, But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the kings orders.

“Feared God…” hmmm and what does Proverbs 9:10 say that stirs up? The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. If I want to choose well, good golly I could use a fresh stirring up of a reverent Holy Fear of our God, daily!

Joseph in holy fear of his God was given good judgement in his situation.

Romans 12:19 (NIV) Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Proverbs 21:23 (MSG) Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

The midwives in Exodus, like Joseph, were blessed by God through their choice to be obedient to Him in the scary, in the unexplainable, in the hurt… they chose to let God rule their hearts and minds, to rest in trust and faith over striving for control in turbulent frustration (Ex. 1:21, Gen. 41:41).

Deuteronomy 28 is a refreshing read as it clearly lists the incredible benefits for trusting and obeying God alongside the curses for disobedience. Just like driving, the lines on the road give us clear expectations for right driving. They are for us to follow in order to keep ourselves and everyone around us on the road safe. If we choose to ignore them… well, it is not going to be pretty is it, talk about some turbulent frustration to say the least!!!

Deut. 28:47 clearly states the choice is ours to make, If you do not serve the LORD your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies…

Deut. 28:38 tells me disobedience leads to me working hard but gaining little…for locusts will eat your crops.

But amazing, amazing grace is what set’s belief in Jesus as our personal God and Savior apart from anything else!! Because even though we make mistakes, and sometimes even make ridiculous choices like ignoring “road lines” and end up with locusts eating up all our crops, so to speak… We have Joel 2:25-27!!!! Verse 25 states, The LORD says, I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts… Talk about AMAZING GRACE, MERCY, FORGIVENESS AND LOVE!!!

Romans 6 also holds incredible hope for all who would turn from living for self and live for Jesus! But again God leaves that choice to us, He will not force any of us to choose Him.

Romans 6:16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (vs. 23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  

Yes, that said FREE GIFT!! Does that not hit home especially around the time everyone is trying to give gifts that so often put us in debt?! Jesus offers eternal life… for FREE, we must only choose to believe in His death on the cross in our place, for our sin, for all our ridiculous choices, in order to be made new and receive eternal life with Him! For Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death for us!

There is no greater love than His. Will you choose to accept it today? Maybe you have… then will we choose to give it away like Joseph did… like Jesus does? Freely.

…Freely you have received; freely give. Matt. 10:8

Independent Read: 1 John 4:7-8 (kNOw God, kNOw love)

 

 

Try Fighting Why With Why

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…he gave his one and only Son… John 3:16

Crazy the difference just one chapter can make! I mean John chapter 11 smells like death and by John chapter 12 it’s smelling like expensive perfume! So don’t give up if your current chapter smells a bit unpleasant. It’s a chapter and in Jesus pages are always turning!

The same scenario in John 12 is depicted in Mark 14:3-9. I see two questions asked in this passage beginning with, “Why…?” The first question is asked by a judgmental audience. They couldn’t believe someone would just spill out such expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.

I wonder how quickly and wrongly I’ve judged another because I didn’t understand their “why”?

This gal’s offering to Jesus cost her something. Am I willing to offer Jesus something of value? Do I offer Him anything that might actually cost me something? Or do I play it safe, either because of my lack of trust or just plain unwillingness to be made uncomfortable?

This crowd asked this gal, “Why waste such expensive perfume?” (vs. 4) But I see Jesus fight their “Why..?” with His own “Why…?”! He replies in verse 6, Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 

Anytime we are willing to step out for Him, we can trust Him to stand up for us.

Jesus fought the “why” with a “why”. Maybe the next time we have a “why”… a why does it have to be this way… why did this or that happen or not happen…?! We can fight it with His “why”.

Why did Jesus leave heaven and come to earth? Why did He die on the cross?

…because God is love. 1 John 4:8

Jesus came to earth so we could know God. Jesus came in obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus died for our sin, clearing a debt He didn’t owe because we couldn’t pay. Jesus came to open a way for us to live eternally in His heavenly kingdom.

Why? Because He loves you.

We may not have answers for all of our “whys” on earth (1 Cor. 13:12) but we can choose to fight all our fears, doubts and worries with the facts of His “why”.

And, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him — 1 Cor. 2:9

Just before we exit this story, Jesus praises this dear woman. Why? Because, she has done what she could…(verse 8) 

Don’t give up in this chapter because you think all you have is just a little fight left. All that you are, all that you have, no matter how much or little that seems, it’s enough.

You’re enough.

Why?

Because on the cross God said so.

Independent Read: Philippians 2:5-8

What You Really Want…

Man giving present to woman

Our money is gone! they cried. But please give us food… Genesis 47:15

Interesting isn’t it… that the people cried out that their money was gone but what they asked for was NOT more money… but rather food!

So often it takes getting to the end of our resources to figure out our need is NOT more REsources but rather just The Source of all resources.

The Source of life is Jesus Christ. He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). These people in Genesis offered themselves as slaves to Pharaoh in order to survive. They say, Just give us grain so we may live and not die… (vs. 19) Joseph provides these people with seed to plant their fields (vs. 23).

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 2 Cor. 9:10

In Genesis the food produced from the seed was to be for themselves, their households and their little ones (vs. 24).

These commands that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

In Genesis the people exclaim, You have saved us! and they wish to remain as Pharaoh’s servants. (Gen. 47:25)

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 1 Corinthians 7:23

Jesus paid our way to eternity with His life. To all who would believe on Him as their God, their personal Savior will not perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16)

Paul in Romans 1:1 declares himself to be a servant of Jesus, called and set apart for the gospel, the Good News that Jesus came to save us all! That through our belief in His death and resurrection we receive new life in Christ!

We can live forever with the One who knit you together and holds all your tears in a bottle because He cares just that much about you! Jesus is the only filling that will satisfy the deepest crave of our hearts and fill the void in the deepest darkest night.

Jesus is what we really want. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t wring yourself dry. Don’t waste your purpose on the next empty cause.

Don’t sell yourself.

GIVE yourself.

Give yourself to Jesus. The Bread of True Life, the great I AM all you’ll ever need and the One who truly wants…

YOU.

Independent Read: Romans 8:38-39

 

 

Never Forget The Blessings Of Jesus

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…I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father! Genesis 44:34

In the account of Josephs life in the bible I found myself pondering over his brother Judah. Judah and his brothers had made a colossal mistake and at the end of Genesis 38 we see the grief that it caused their father.

By the beginning of chapter 39 we see Judah running off further down the wrong path. I wonder if Judah saw the anguish on his fathers face caused by his mistake and just figured he was no longer lovable. Maybe he thought he had failed too far this time and most certainly God would no longer include him in any blessing. Who then would care where he went or what he did?

Ever felt all hope has been lost?

Take heart dear one! In Jesus you have a hope that will NEVER disappoint!! (Romans 5:5)

Before the end of rouge chapter 39 in Genesis, God’s amazing, mind blowing grace shows up!!! Praise Him, He is faithful even when we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13)! I believe Judah’s response to the situation in chapter 44 is a result of a complete heart overhaul that occurred right here in chapter 39!

Anyone have a “rouge chapter 39” in life that they just have to get down and thank God for because it’s what brought them to Him?! (Genesis 50:20)

Judah’s heart had been transformed to reflect our Saviors in that he was willing to offer his own life now in order to spare his younger brother Johnathan’s! And what is his explanation for doing so!!!?! Gen. 44:34 …I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!

Judah had seen that look of anguish once before and chose to keep that mind picture only as a reminder of a place he never wanted to be again and to document how deep a pit God Himself had rescued him out of. Psalm 40:2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

What a picture of our Savior’s heart in that Judah was willing to do the hard thing, to live his life out for a higher calling than earthly gain, to live in the transforming work of God rather than give the enemy the satisfaction of remaining under the rock of regret and in the shadow of shame. Judah wanted to please his fathers heart. Jesus in the garden was willing to lay aside His will to accomplish what the Father had sent Him to do. Jesus wanted to please the Father’s heart.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Jesus had wished the Father’s plan could have been carried out differently but when it could not have been, He exuded ultimate strength by laying aside His own. He took the “no” for a greater “yes”. The “yes” that saved our lives as believers in Jesus.

What “no” am I willing to bear in order to spare the look of anguish on my heavenly Fathers face and to allow Him to work out His loftier “yes” with my life?

Let me never forget the blessings of Jesus. In Him I have eternal life and the power of His Spirit that raised Him from the grave within me! He sacrificed Himself so that I could see anything He asks of me not as a sacrifice but rather as an honor! An honor to lay down, to work out, to give back… to the glory of the One through whose death and resurrection redeemed my life from the pit and won me life eternal.

All this blessing is for you too. It’s for all who would recognize themselves as imperfect sinful human beings in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). A Savior who is Jesus Christ, who laid down His life through death on a cross in place of our’s (Romans 5:8), who rose again defeating death (1 Cor. 15:4) and now through His life offers us new life and extends forgiveness, and amazing grace to all who would just believe (1 Cor. 15:55-57). It’s one simple prayer to receive and believe on Jesus as your God and Savior, to receive life eternal.

Psalm 103:1-5 Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Don’t wait dear one – today, take up and live in the abundant blessings of Jesus Christ.

Independent Read: Hebrews 10:23

A Loftier Purpose

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This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. Psalm 139:6 (HCSB)

This Saturday morning found all of us 8 gathered around the breakfast table enjoying donuts, sprinkles, whip cream and a whole lot of chaotic laughter… when all of a sudden our oldest exclaims, “He’s out! Hupo’s out!” to which we all jump up to gather around the kitchen island to get a close up view of our little Hupo!

**Now this happens to be the third installment of blogs on our Mr. Hupo. #1 “One Silk Thread At A Time” #2 “Mr. Hupo” and now #3 “A Loftier Purpose”. In case you missed 1 and 2 we watched Hupo spin his cocoon the very evening our youngest caught him crawling across our front porch. We soon learned that caterpillars that spin their cocoons so late in the season can hibernate inside!! Which was why ours seemed not to be emerging… ever. So we decided to name him since it seemed he would be with us awhile.

We went with the Greek word for patience, hupomone. “Hupo – “under” and meno – “remain, endure” – properly, remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges He allots in life.” – So thus “Hupo” became his name short for hupomone, and Romans 12:12 became his namesake verse… Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Now months and months after we first witnessed his cocoon spinning, this Saturday was the day he emerged!!! But for some reason he must have slipped off his cocoon while emerging because he was laying at the bottom of the jar rather than hanging and so only one of his wings was able to open and begin drying correctly.

We immediately abandoned all donuts and went into rescue mode. Repositioning Mr. Hupo and grabbing random resources from our garage to build a more appropriate home for him to finish drying and hopefully provide opportunity for his crumpled wing to expand!

This little one has carried so many hope filled messages to my heart that have encouraged me through timely situations along this journey. So today I sat watching and wondering in a bit of jumbled confusion at God’s timing and way as little Hupo’s wing remained… crumbled.

Why did he slip? Could I have done something differently? I thought he would have hibernated longer, it’s still cold outside God?! What do we do? How can I help him? He’s supposed to fly God, I thought it would be spring and we would all get to watch him fly together as a family with some glorious big final release to this miraculous story we got to witness first hand!?! This most certainly is not how I envisioned it God, why? How? What now?

And I think that was it… that last question “What now?” was what God grabbed on to and said, now you are asking Me the right question girl! My ways are higher and loftier than yours they are beyond tracing out, you won’t, can’t, understand everything this side of heaven. One day you will but in the mean time TRUST Me, abide in My good everlasting love. Not a sparrow… or butterfly falls without My knowing it.

Don’t ask why, how, but rather, what now… keep walking forward with Me, trust Me for the next step. I’m never lost, nothing takes Me by surprise, I’m always in control and on plan “A” for all of life of which I have already won the ultimate victory over.

Then be willing to take My perspective. You THOUGHT Hupo would fly because that’s what “all” butterflies do. But that’s just your limited perspective from your limited understanding.

Instead of being discouraged because you’re not “flying” like everyone else or like you think you should be… be willing to take My perspective because maybe I’ve called you to a loftier purpose… a purpose that I need you to carry into the world for Me and last I checked it’s pretty hard to carry something while using your wings to fly.

You can’t be about your own mission and Mine too, you can’t serve two masters… so will you be willing to take My perspective on your situation, circumstance, life and maybe instead of “flying” like you thought, be willing to carry My loftier purpose for your life into the world.

As I let His message sink in I noticed that the make shift cage we constructed for Hupo was exactly the same type of plastic shoebox that the church was using to fill numerous times and collecting this Sunday (TOMORROW) to send as gifts to a community in need!!

I thought, oh my goodness Lord, Your timing is perfection!! Tomorrow at church when so many will be bringing in their plastic shoeboxes filled with donations my kids can also CARRY in a shoebox filled with Mr. Hupo for show and tell in their Sunday school classes with the LOFTY message of courage, strength and hope found in our God when we are willing to take His perspective on our lives!!

If Hupo had two wings like all other butterflies would I have sat long enough to contemplate God’s heart as I did, would I have noticed the message He allowed our little Hupo to carry into the world because He had a lofty purpose for his life that Hupo couldn’t have done with wings like everyone else?!?!

Who wants to fly ordinary, when you can be extra-ordinary, set apart, to carry out a lofty purpose for an extraordinary King!?!!!

Embrace His loftier perspective of and for your life. If you are breathing in it’s because He first breathed out and that always and only comes with GREAT purpose dear one. Breathe deep and live for His loftier purpose.

Independent Read: Romans 15:13, Romans 8:28, Genesis 50:20, Ecc. 3:11, Psalm 77:19, Psalm 139:14, 1 Cor. 13:12, Is. 55:8-9, Jer. 29:11

 

What A Relief!

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And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! Genesis 33:10

Everyone is fighting a battle most others would know nothing about right… so maybe if we could allow God to push through us more of His character into the world we might notice the whole world beginning to change – one simple friendly smile at a time!

It’s encouraging to know that the very first Adam had needs, wants, desires and was probably pretty lonely, all of which God took notice (Gen. 2:18) and cared. It’s interesting isn’t it that it was in REST that God met Adam’s needs with Eve (Gen. 2:21-23).

What a relief to know that the God who knit your heart together knows your needs and desires too. Dear one, if it is on your mind it is on His heart (1 Peter 5:7). Might we, like Adam, rest in abiding (Matt. 11:28) in His faithful love, timing and divine plan as He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).  He who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23).

In the life of Jacob we see God’s faithfulness played out. In Genesis 32 Jacob is given a new identity, a new name. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor. 5:17 However the very first sentence in chapter 33 states, Then Jacob looked up and saw… yes, Jacob now named Israel looks up and sees the enemy he is so terrified of, approaching!!!

He goes from receiving a new identity straight into an opportunity to grow into it!!!

Tough but not impossible in Christ (Phil. 4:13). Jacob/Israel is up for the challenge and continues to walk with God. We see in Gen. 28:21 Jacob tells God that if God will bring him back SAFELY he will be his God not just the God of his father or friends but he would receive Him as his God.

20 years… yes 20 years goes by and God is faithful and true and never leaves Jacob/Israel. God even takes the time to reconfirm His faithful promise to him in Gen. 35:10 that He made in Gen. 32:28.

Maybe on your journey you just need God to reaffirm that you are going in the right direction OR to redirect you if you are not; to encourage you to keep going, keep smilin’ because only roads titled “lost” can lead to “found” right!

The same God who knew Jacob would need encouragement along the way is the same God who knew the desires in the depths of Adams heart and is the same God who also knows, hears, cares and sees yours too. (Heb. 13:8)

Genesis 33:18 records God’s faithfulness beautifully. Remember how in Gen. 28:21 decades earlier Jacob asked God to bring him safely?… well, Jacob arrived safely (28:21) back to the promised land of Canaan. (Verse 20) And there he built an alter and named it El-Elohe-Israel. (That means, God the God of Israel) so just as Jacob had said years before that if he saw God’s faithfulness he would claim Him as His own God and he did!

We have God’s living active Word that proves His faithfulness. Jesus died on the cross for our sin so that we could be set free, free to take on a new identity in Him and live eternally if only we would believe (John 3:16). 2 Timothy 4:18 tells us we too indeed arrive SAFELY!

What a relief right!! Praise the mighty victorious name of Jesus, who knows, cares, understands, loves, hears and sees you. Keep walking with Him, keep smilin’ (cuz someone else might need it), and you will, like Adam, like Jacob, find Him faithful.

Oh what a relief.

Independent read: 2 Timothy 2:13

 

Availability vs. Ability ?!

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Now pay attention! I’m here with you, and I’m going to be watching over you wherever you go. I’m going to bring you back to this land, because I won’t ever leave you until I’ve accomplished what I’ve promised about you. Genesis 28:15 (ISV)

This is what I like to call a locker room verse. You know, the kind that as you are heading toward those double doors that lead out to the playing field of life and the I AM coach stops you in your tracks cuz He’s got one more Word for you.

“Hey mighty warrior!” You think, I’m sure He meant the guy that just left. But He calls again, louder this time, “Hey mighty warrior!!” You slow but still can’t believe He would be addressing you.

When all of a sudden you are spun around to face Him! With His mighty hand He grabs the face mask on your helmet of salvation so that you have to fix your eyes with His as He calls YOU His mighty warrior (despite how unqualified and unlikely you feel) and pours the truth of Genesis 28:15 in high definition and with great exclamation into your soul!

It’s not about ability it’s about AVAILability.

We can constantly live in the fear of the unknown, the question mark of life OR we choose to live in the fearless freedom that comes from the exclamation of His faithful promises!

If you were to draw an eye on the end of a question mark symbol which way does it face? DOWN right! Now if you draw an eye on the end of an exclamation point symbol which way does it face? UP!

If I am going to live fearlessly confident in the exclamation of God’s faithful promises I can’t keep my eyes down cast on my own feet, on my own lack of ability and resources. I must fix my eyes up on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Heb. 12:2)

In Genesis 32 we see Jacob getting ready to step out of the locker room so to speak as he returns to the promised land at God’s direction. Verse 7 states, Jacob was terrified but how do we see he responds to his fear and questions… verse 9, Then Jacob prayed…

When I’m threatened by life’s unknown I can run around frantic in fear or I can take captive all my thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5) and bring them to God in prayer.

Jacob gives us a good example of how to pray when we are questioning… am I going the right way, am I making the right choice, am I going to make it, how, why…???

To highlight a few phrases from Jacob’s prayer recorded in Gen. 32:9-12…

(9) O LORD, you told me… And you promised me… (10) I am not… I owned nothing… Now my house fills… (11) O LORD, please rescue… I am afraid… (12) But you promised me…

Jacob goes back to abide in God’s faithful promises – he remembers who he is not and Who God is – he honestly places before God his feelings and requests – but ends like he started, resting in His faithful promises! Because God is the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13) and finishes what He starts (Phil. 1:6)! Praise Jesus!!

So where are you today? 1 Cor. 3:16 states, Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 

I tell you what, if we know the answer to that question we should be living it out in exclamation!! The Spirit of the Living God dwells in me, whom or what shall I fear!!! (Psalm 27:1)

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Don’t fear your lack of ability to be, to figure it out, to fix, to know… rather just give Jesus your AVAILability in His Word and in prayer and watch your life straighten out from a question mark state to an exclamation mark type adventure! (John 10:10)

Independent Read: Jude 1:24-25