Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fancy Feast

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love!" Song of Solomon 2:4

This thought is from John MacDuff and I just want to highlight a few of the things he brings out in his devotional on this verse.

Imagine the buzz around this banqueting table. Have you ever been to a really fancy banquet, the kind that has too many pieces of silverware to know exactly which fork to use? This is the kind that has the fancy napkins, a bunch of glasses and stemware, staff walking around making sure you have everything you need almost before you need it.

There's coming a day when we will be feasting at the table of the King of all kings and this will be a banquet like we have never seen or tasted before. The very best of food, and what will that be like? Maybe we will know exactly what we are eating, maybe we won't know at all, maybe it will be so delicious we won't care what it is. The Father has the best chefs and the best ingredients.

When I go to a fancy dinner I have to pace myself because I know I can't eat too much because I will get too full too soon, and I also don't want to gain 20 lbs in one meal. This, somehow will not be the case. Teresa said the other day that people want really good food without the guilt when they eat it- well in Heaven this is precisely what we will have.

So, back to the table. Sitting around the table talking about what life was like on earth, maybe those talking about first century martyrdom, the few from the dark ages talking about how they got saved, the Reformers talking about what trials and hardship they went through, our grandparents talking about the Depression and maybe us talking about "The Economy". If the trials weren't here we would not long so much for those coming days. If our life here on earth was just one fancy dinner after another we would not be looking forward, with such great anticipation, to the days that are coming.

Think about no guilt in eating, but also that there will never be a "good bye", never another sickness or lost to talk about from today's news; it will all be in the past and the future could not look brighter. There will be no more wondering about what tomorrow holds because it will be the brightest and cheeriest of forecasts.

And maybe best of all- we will no longer be distracted by our own sinfulness and pride. There will be no sin to fight. Imagine, no wrong attitudes, no lusting after the wrong things, no jealousy or gossiping, just pure worship and enjoyment of the King in our new Home.

"What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be"
Author unknown to me.

Maybe the first meal will be today. I am so excited to see the glories of Heaven and leave the heartache and cares of earthly life, but until He takes me Home I have some work to do here for the King.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trust, Hope and Wait- along with prayer and work

Ezra 8:22 "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him."

Dan. 3:17 "If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king."

In both of these narratives there is a strong trust in God to save His people, so much so that they were willing to lay it "On the line" to follow Him. Ezra had told this to the king and then they fasted and prayed that God would do what He had promised and they had told the King. What would it have looked like if they had said they didn't need protection because God would take care of them and then they had asked, or had not asked and then been attacked? Wouldn't that put God in an unfavorable light to the watching world?

In the case of the young Israelites, they completely trusted that their God could bring them through the furnace, though they didn't know exactly how, and yet they also knew that if God did allow the furnace to consume them that God would care for them beyond the furnace.

I find myself in this kind of area more than I would have imagined a few years ago. If I am telling people that God can carry us through this time, and I completely believe He has the power and ability to do that, then what will happen if He doesn't? There will be those who will say, or think, that I trusted the wrong "thing", or that I should have gone out and asked for help from outsiders.

As I consider what He wants me to put "On the line" it is difficult to discern the extent of what that might look like; how much to put down. His ways are not our ways and His thought are not our thoughts and that is so apparent to me as I try to figure just a little of this out.

I am also unsure of where my part ends and His part starts. It is hard to know when "wrestling with God" over an issue is the right thing to do, or if just resting in His care is best. Much pleading and entreating, followed by working my side is all I can do, but how long to we ask before we are nagging? Paul asked 3 times, but I have asked more than 300; has He already answered and this IS His answer?

One thing I do know is that I am truly confident in His ability, but I am not sure of His will. If He wants to turn this around I completely believe He can do that today and it will not be hard for Him; does He want to do that?

So I continue to pray that He would show Himself strong and faithful, as I know He is, because I don't want the world to say, "You trusted in God, that He would deliver you, now let Him deliver you". This of course was directed at Jesus, Who is our perfect example of putting it "On the line", and the world has been debating this for the past 2k years.

I still believe Father but help my unbelief as I trust You to care for our needs. There is no doubt in my mind that You can do all things, but I am not sure if you will. You have built my faith to trust You and Your Word and I can only hold up my cup of salvation and ask you to fill it again. You filled it everyday for me and You must fill it again if it is to be filled. I rest in Your care. Don't let the world think that I have put my trust in the wrong place. Show Yourself as You truly are to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

God is Rejoicing over His People

"I will rejoice over [my people] to do them good."
--Jeremiah 32:41

"How encouraging to the believer is God's delight in His saints! We have no reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us. Indeed, we too often can take no delight in ourselves for we have to groan being burdened, conscious of our sinfulness and deploring our unfaithfulness. Other Christians seldom delight in us either; too often they see our many imperfections; they would rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces." Spurgeon- Morning and Evening

It's always interesting to me how God does these kinds of things. As I was walking and praying this morning I was thinking about why would God bless me/PG. I have no goodness of my own, in fact often I am the opposite of good. My heart it deceitful and desperately wicked and here I am pleading with Him to bless us more than He already has. Even as I worship and pray I am often distracted and forget where I am and what I am doing and just go through the motions. How could I say that I really love Him when I do these kinds of things? And, why would He then want to bless me when I act this way?

And then I come back and read this morning's topic and I am reminded that it doesn't depend on me for Him to love me, it only is because He is gracious. The rest of this morning topic is about how He doesn't rejoice over creation like He does us, He doesn't even rejoice over the angels; we are unique in all of creation because even as fallen creature, who often do the wrong thing, He delights- He shouts for joy- over His children.

So, as we get irritated with our own fallen state and how we so quickly run to other affections and sinful things, as we look at other believers and see their lack of righteous living and dwell on their faults rather than the spiritual gifts that God has blessed them with we must remind ourselves that God loves His children and He longs to do them good, including us personally who, maybe in our minds, are the least deserving to be blessed.

Why should He love us so much? Well, humanly speaking, He shouldn't, but we are not talking in human terms when we are talking about God's love for His creation. Rejoice in His love- so undeserved- for you today.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can Losing be Best?

2 Cor. 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

For most of my life I have wanted to win. It didn't really matter how small the item was, I could make myself play/work much harder if I could convince myself I was wining. For example; I like to can all kinds of things because it seems like when you're done that you've got away with something; like you're "cheating" in some way because now you don't have to pay for that.

But now that I have been through probably, and hopefully, more than half my earthly life I am finding that I am really not "winning" much these days and may not "win" much in the future. The economic signs are less than promising, business for PG is congruent with that and that has been the measure of much of my previous success; if business is good, I am "good".

These verses are a good reminder to me that this is exactly where I am supposed to be in God's economy. Paul, seemingly, had the same issue as many of us; the tendency to think more highly of himself than he ought, and it seems like at least a portion of that came from success in his endeavors. God had placed him in those situations of success, so he clearly was doing what God had planned for him, but there was a tendency to boast in those same victories. His greatest strengths was also his weaknesses.

When he asked the Lord 3 times to remove whatever was his thorn in the flesh and God left it there as a reminder that he was weak and since God left it there Paul would have to rely much more on Christ with it there than if it were gone. I guess I can relate to that better now. Maybe I am closer to that place in my own life than I want to admit. If being weak forces me to admit that I'm am losing, I am not so excited to do that humanly speaking.

But, with Paul, I must also say spiritually, that if being weak keeps me in the right place spiritually, then I want to "boast" in my weakness, because now I can say that this is where God wants me to be, even though it is hard and scary. I told Jim Martin, more than a year ago, that as hard as it is, I don't necessarily want to get out of the hard times because they are the same things that have brought me closest to Christ.

So, as I am awake at much too early in the morning, because I am not sleeping too well thinking about what might be coming, I am at least excited to watch God work all this weakness out into the open so He can be made glorious as my own weakness is displayed. This is not where I would put myself if I were Him, but where I am content to be because I am not Him and I know that He will give only what is best.

This also is a good reminder that maybe the state of weakness and "losing" is going to be where I am for a long time; maybe even until I go Home, and I have to learn to be content in that. In "Morning and Evening" the other day, Spurgeon gave this idea and I paraphrase; It is also a great comfort to know that since He has me right here, He provides the strength for me to go Through each and every trial, not to get out of them. He allows the thorn to stay, but in each little poking of the thorn there is also the reminder that He gives the perfect amount of grace to endure that same poking.

Please pray that I would remember these things and be continually praising Him for the trials that He allows, even though they are hard. I need to figure out sooner, rather than later, that this is where I am going to be probably for quite a while and maybe I should quit praying that God would take me out of this place. The answer to the post heading I think is, "yes, if God is most glorified".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Its Been a While

Ps. 40:16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, "Great is the LORD!"
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!

I talked to someone the other day and they said that it had been a long time since I had posted- which is very true. This is not my regular form of writing now, as it seems many have moved from blogging to FB. I also must admit that often I am very discouraged with the topics on FB.

Well, as I look back at the last 2 years, almost to the day, the Lord has carried PG this entire time of extended recession. As I read back through some of my old posts I can see where the very lean times have been for PG and I am encouraged to note that God has brought us through each of those times to this place today.

As a serious planner, it is difficult to wait on the Lord for His provision at every turn. He has put me in a place where I can only wait and hold up my cup for Him to fill it each day. he doesn't promise prosperity here on earth, in fact He said this world would be trouble, and it certainly seems as though I have found my share, and maybe someone else's as well.

I am both encouraged and humbled as I look where He has brought us, where He has allowed us to succeed and where He has picked us up along the way. Today, as I try to figure out where He is leading us now, and if He will allow us to continue long into the future or not, I am comforted with the fact that He knows what is best and even if He doesn't give us a "loaf of bread" or "a fish", He promises to give us what is better.

Please pray with us that we would know His care for us and that we would be able to wait patiently for Him and not try to run ahead. He has something amazing planned but that something amazing might be super hard. He brings allows the trials and gives the strength. I must be reminding myself of this all the time.

I would say that it is more fun to be watching the roller coaster than to necessarily be on it, but I am on and so hopefully you can enjoy watching us ride:)
Great is the Lord.