I’m leading a study on the Proverbs 31 woman (verses 10-31) this fall. As I was pondering laying the groundwork for our weeks together studying this beautiful and challenging section of Scripture, I believe the Holy Spirit shared a precious treasure with…
What My Father Says About Focusing On The Positive...
Supposedly it takes 21 days to form a new habit, although I believe this is a myth. However long it takes, we all know it takes repetition. We all have bad habits, and hopefully we all have some good ones, too, like brushing our teeth.
Spring begins this Wednesday! Don’t you just love Spring here in Portland? Everywhere around us there is newness! I am filled with excitement and anticipation for what might happen next. And I relish in each new day whether it rains…
Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you,…
What My Father Says About Finding Grace For Your Journey...
What is grace exactly? I’m still trying to figure that one out. For those of us whose natural inclination is to earn the favor of God, we are in for a challenge in the area of grace! I offer here a few thoughts about God’s grace on the road of faith…
I’m writing to share an older hymn with you that’s been on my heart. My father sang hymns and worship songs with us every morning while I was growing up; many of them come to my mind in a time of need. Here is one of them:
Many of you are fasting for next week’s “SEVEN,” where several of the Christian churches in Portland are committing to a week of prayer and fasting for our city.
My husband and I make fasting from food a discipline in our lives to help us keep Jesus as our focus and to better hear Him when He speaks. But next week, instead of fasting from food we are going to do a “media fast” where we take a week long break from music, TV, the internet, talk radio, and all the other media type distractions like Instagram, Facebook, etc.
We were discussing this with my father and he made a very interesting point. He said, "we hear so many words every day in our culture between music, television, and the internet. Our ears and heart can be calloused from hearing God’s voice because we are conditioned to hearing lots of voices every day. In older days, people worked in environments where there were much fewer words so you had time to hear God and think about what He was saying."
I’m sending out this blog to hopefully encourage you as you are thinking about fasting next week, to consider what you will fast from. Certainly food is the standard, but for many of us, we physically cannot fast from food for seven days because we have to work. So consider a fast from the distractions of media that fill our minds with words making it difficult to hear from God.
"If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” Mark 7:16
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
"Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications.” Psalm 130:2
When I was about eight years old I received my first New King James Bible; no more kids Bible for me with pictures, I wanted the real thing. I loved reading it and can remember the first Scripture I memorized, John 14:1-6. It still holds great significance for me.
In my reading I came across the phrase “the fear of the Lord.” I asked my Mom what it meant to fear the Lord, because the word “fear” seemed like a bad word to me, but the Bible speaks of it as a good thing.
My Mom said, “You know how you don’t want to do anything that will upset your Dad? When you do something wrong, you feel it because you know that Dad would not be happy if he found out. That is what the fear of the Lord is like. It makes you want to do the things that make Him happy.”
I remembered this as I was reading in 2 Corinthians this morning:
"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." 2 Cor. 5:9-10
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…" Psalm 111:10
"In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death." Prov. 14:26-27
"By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life." Prov. 22:4
And it’s even said to be what marked Jesus:
"The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord…" Isaiah 11:2-3
We had family devotions every morning when I was growing up. From as young as I can remember until I went to college, my father would lead us in worship, reading the Bible, and prayer each day. It is one of the most cherished things I learned from my father.
Along with our daily devotions, my father had a prayer schedule. There are many things Scripture tells us to pray about that we often overlook. But having a prayer schedule helped us to be diligent to remember these things in our devotions. We would pray for family and friends, the church, our nation and Israel, our work, had a special time to give thanks, etc. Each day was devoted to one of these themes.
My father taught me what he learned from one of his own mentors, Derek Prince, that "to be more spiritual, sometimes we have to be more practical."
If we had not practically worked into our daily schedule our devotions and remembering specific things to pray about, they probably would not have gotten done. Many people simply don’t make it a priority to read the Scripture and to pray because they don’t set aside the time.
My husband and I have adopted these practices into our own life together. Each morning we spend time in the word and prayer. And we even have our own prayer schedule so we can make sure to cover all the things that concern us, giving them over the Lord. It has proven to be a huge blessing to us as individuals and in our marriage.
I encourage each of you, no matter what stage of life you are in to do the same, single, married, or married with children. The benefits are eternal.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Th. 5:16-18
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth….I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting…" 1 Tim. 2:1-4, 8
"How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word." Psalm 119:9
"Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You." Psalm 119:11
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Gal. 6:7-8
On Monday Chad and I celebrated seven years of Covenant marriage. In honor of our marriage, I want to share something special with you today…
But first I must give a disclaimer: This is something God showed me AFTER I married Chad to share with others. Several years ago I had been asked to give a Bible study on marriage and this is what I felt inspired by the Holy Spirit to share. I don’t claim to be all-knowing and wise in this area of life. It is purely by God’s mercy and grace toward me that things worked out the way they did for Chad and I.
I also don’t want any of you to come under condemnation if you feel after reading this that you’ve blown in some way. We have all fallen short in many areas, myself included. Which is why we all need Jesus. When we repent of going our way and turn to Him, He can make a mistake into something beautiful.
Jesus says, “…he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens…I am the door of the sheep…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:1-3, 7, 11
Ladies, you are a little sheep in God’s fold. Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He is there to protect you from bad shepherds, thieves, and robbers. He says that good shepherds come in through the door and not over the wall. The doorkeeper will open for the one who is willing to come through it.
How does this passage relate to knowing how to choose a mate? What I believe God showed me is this: the right man will honor your purity, he will honor your earthly father, and he will honor your Heavenly Father.
SHEPHERD: A husband is like a shepherd. His role is to protect, promote, and provide for his wife. He recognizes the responsibility of caring for your life.
DOOR: The door is a symbol of God’s ways; purity and holiness. A good shepherd is willing to do things God’s way. He is willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to stay pure until marriage, along with all the other necessary responsibilities that come with being married.
DOORKEEPER: The doorkeeper is a symbol of your earthly father, or for many ladies who don’t have a father to watch out for them, the authority God has placed in your life. The doorkeeper will open to the man who honors his daughter’s purity and values her, who cares more about her and doing things God’s way than he does about his own pleasure.
GOOD SHEPHERD: The true Shepherd of the sheep is always Jesus, God. The man who wants to shepherd you, will honor the true Shepherd of your eternal life and he will lay down his own life to do so. He will recognize you were bought with the blood of Christ and therefore of high worth to the Father.
The false shepherd will go around the door and over the wall. This shows he does not care about your purity, and does not want to deal with your father. He is not willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to wait. He does not have a long-term perspective or sense of responsibility before God. He will try to take from you what God has not given him. Such a man who disrespects you, your father, and God’s ways will not be willing to lay his life down for you when times get really tough. He has not worked at building a sure foundation of trust and sacrifice.
God showed me how this worked out in my own life through Chad’s example…
After only a few times of “hanging out” Chad directly approached me to talk about “this relationship that’s developing.” He said he had very strict physical boundaries to maintain our purity until marriage. He also said he’d been asking God if he could take me on a date and he felt that God said to ask my father. I, of course, was shocked and honored to see his fear of God. And any man who could get past my Dad, would probably be a keeper. So, naturally, I was anxious to hear how his talk with my Dad would go…
My father said, “no.” He said, “my daughter or any lady, you should not be getting your head wrapped around a girl right now. God has other things for you to focus on if you want to prepare for marriage.” My father proceeded to share wisdom with Chad on how he could prepare for marriage and encouraged him in the potential he saw in him. And then we all waited for Chad to prove it before my father would let him take me out.
Crazy? Old fashioned? Maybe…but it worked. God’s word and ways always prove to be true and best. When I think back on how Chad honored me, my family, and the Lord, I have confidence that I chose the right man. And because that is the foundation Chad chose to lay for our marriage, he keeps on honoring me, my family, and the Lord. He is by no means perfect, but he has shown himself to be a shepherd I can trust and follow.
My father always told me, “next to making a decision to follow Christ, who you marry is the most important decision you will ever make.” This decision is more important than where you live, where you go to college, where you work, where you even go to church. Who you choose for a mate will effect everything.
I hope you will consider what I’ve said if you are a father raising girls. I will forever be grateful for my father who cared enough to guard my life and protect me. I’ve had several friends tell me they wished they’d had a father like mine to help them in choosing the right mate.
And if you are a single man, show the lady you believe to be the one that’s she’s worth it to you and to God, by following God’s ways and not the culture. Culture teaches people to try each other on like hats and if it doesn’t seem to fit or the fit seems to grow old or uncool, to cast it aside and find a new fit. God has ways for us to live by to keep us from hurting ourselves and others. Chad showed me that I was and am worth it.
And ladies, don’t settle for a man who doesn’t respect your purity, your father, or the Father God. Remember, next to choosing Jesus, this is the most important decision you will ever make. Don’t settle! Don’t compromise! God cares about you and knows what’s best for you. He has these safeguards to protect you from making a decision that could be harder to fix than you realize. Lay a sure foundation for your marriage without any shortcuts that need fixing later.
Praise the Lord for His redeeming work and power to save us! Contrary to my own foolishness, God chose to bless me, and He can certainly do the same for you.
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Matthew 7:24-27
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD." Proverbs 18:22
"Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” Proverbs 20:6
"So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her." Genesis 29:20
I feel as though I am surrounded by people who are in seasons of transition and change; new jobs, relationships, houses, cities, and even countries. It reminds me of when Chad and I were leaving San Luis Obispo to move to the Lake Tahoe area. Before leaving we had a small gathering with my family and a few close friends.
I said goodbye to my Dad who was sad to see us moving further away, but he said, "the Cloud moves on."
My father was referencing how the Lord led the way for His people in the wilderness:
"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night." Exodus 13:21
"…who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in fire by night and in the cloud by day." Deut. 1:33
"Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up." Exodus 40:36-37
The verses from Exodus 40 are especially important for us to consider. We are either given too easily to change and move before the Lord shows us the way, or we are given to dragging our feet, God has moved on, but we have not. It is important for us to keep our eyes focused on the Lord. Is the Lord resting in the place where you are, or is the Lord telling you to move onward in your journey?
Do you remember how Jesus teaches His disciples that He will shepherd His people? He says, “…He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. And when He brings out His own sheep, He goes before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice.” John 10:3-4
My encouragement to you, if you are in transition, is to make sure you are listening to the voice of the Shepherd, watching for the movement of the Cloud. Do not move ahead of Him into danger, but when "the cloud moves on" do not delay to follow, wherever God leads is the best place for you to be.
Abundant Living - My Notes from the Door of Hope Ladies Gathering April 27, 2012
Thank you to all the ladies who were able to join us last Friday. Here are the notes from what I shared, without all the personal stories.
I. What is Abundant Living for the Christian? Where does it come from and how do I obtain it?
II. In order to know what the source is for the Abundant Life, we can turn to the words of Jesus Christ to lay our foundation:
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10
"I am the way, the truth, and the life…" John 14:6
God alone, through Jesus Christ, is the source for the Abundant Life.
III. Now, let’s ask ourselves what is having an Abundance? Many of us may believe that having an abundance means having everything in life that we want. I believe, however, that it is having more than enough for the season of life you are in.
So, let’s discuss three different types of seasons we may find ourselves in so we can better understand God’s plan for Abundant Living…
IV. The Wilderness Season: Many of us have experienced a season of dryness and leanness…Israel did, too. Wandering through the desert doesn’t seem like Abundant Living, but it was exactly what God had in mind to teach Israel:
a. To worship only God
b. To obey His commands
c. To be thankful
d. To trust Him
Read Deuteronomy 8:2-10
V. Promised Land: What about the season of life where everything is going great in your life…you are in the Promised Land, except you can’t get your hands on the one thing you desire? Like the perfect job you are longing for? Or a husband? Or your dream of owning a home? Or a baby? Although we feel like we are living in the Promised Land, we have a hard time laying hold of the one thing we desperately want.
God recently reminded me of Psalm 37, “Trust in the Lord, and do good, dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
We often focus on the part where God says He will give us the desires of our heart. But God showed me that having the desires of my heart is conditional on delighting myself in Him.
You might finally get the thing for which you are longing, but it will not fulfill you if Christ is not your foundation. God does not want us to make idols out of the good things He wants to give us. It sneaks up on you. If you don’t learn to delight yourself in the Lord, you start making your hearts desire your priority instead of God Himself your priority.
In Elisabeth Elliot’s bookPassion & Purityshe says ‘God is not as interested in making you happy as He is interested in making you Holy.’ Holy means to be set apart to the Lord.
VI. Trouble: the last season I want to discuss is the season of trouble. Do our circumstances dictate whether or not we can enjoy God’s abundant life?
No, I do not believe they do. Psalm 23 is the perfect picture of experiencing God’s abundance in the face of great trouble.
God never said life would be easy. He told us there would be trouble…but He promises not to “leave us nor forsake us.” Here it says He walks with us through “the valley of the shadow of death,” and He “prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.”
The first line is also very striking, David confesses, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want!” Another word for “want” is “lack.” I shall not lack!
Clearly God has provision for us, even in the face of great trouble—so much so that David says, “my cup runs over!” That is the perfect picture of abundance!
David was not swayed by his circumstances, though he faced great trouble. We need to be people who are so close to Jesus, we can say the same when trouble comes.
VII. Summary: the abundant life is found in Christ alone. Not in what we do or do not have. How can we learn to delight ourselves in Him when we are in the Wilderness, or when we are waiting for the fulfillment of something we desperately desire, or when we are facing great trouble?
I believe we can learn to delight in Him by putting God first in our lives. Building our life’s foundation on Jesus Christ alone. Remember He came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.
If you focus on what seems to be missing in life, you’ll totally miss out on what God has provided for the season you are in right now, you’ll miss seeing Jesus now.
It’s easy to become preoccupied with worrying about tomorrow. But worrying robs you of the joy God has for you today.
If you want a life that does not lack, that you can say, my cup runs over, learn to delight yourself in God. You will enjoy an abundant life!
What My Father Taught Me About Letting Go... (reposted)
*** This post was accidentally deleted. Sorry for the confusion and thank you for taking the time to read it!
There are many times in life where we come to the end of ourselves. We realize we can’t make our hopes, dreams, and plans a reality. It is humbling. And it is often in this place that we see God.
My father once told me about something Watchman Née calls “the thing in hand.” He told me, “you have to open your hand and let go of the thing you’re holding onto in order to get what God has for you.”
Isn’t this what Abraham had to do when he laid his son Isaac on the alter? Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:8) Could Abraham have known then what God had in mind, and how by being willing to lay down Isaac, God was bound by covenant to do the same?
About a week ago I planted a shade garden in my yard. It doesn’t look like what I had envisioned. I keep staring at it thinking, “grow!”
And in this moment I heard God teaching me something. I realized that all I can do is plant the flowers. God is responsible for the rain, sun, and time that are necessary to make my plants grow. My efforts, my good works, my dreams all amount to nothing without God’s grace.
We have an excellent example of what this looks like in the life of Jesus when He laid down His life on the alter and trusted the Father to resurrect Him. Even Jesus had to know when to say, “it is finished.” (John 19:30) - Thanks, Pastor Tim, for this reminder!
I’m learning to let go…of control. I’m opening my hand, giving my dreams to the Lord. Laying my life down to let God be God. I can only plant my life in the Vine, trusting the Father to provide. (John 15:1-8)
When we let go of our control, we get God’s grace.
"Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.". 1 Corinthians 15:36
"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39
"For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord…" Proverbs 8:35
Chad and I got on FaceTime with my parents the other night. It was so nice to see them, even if only through the internet. Oh the joys of modern technology!
Chad and I shared about a specific challenge in our lives that at times seems hopeless. When something feels hopeless it is difficult not to dwell on the problem, becoming anxious and overwhelmed with the impossibilities.
My father reminded us that hope protects the mind and faith protects the heart: “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and [as] a helmet the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8
He also said, “without hope you cannot have faith, because “faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1)
It begins with hope. My father defines hope as “the expectation of God’s goodness toward me.” It seems easy to believe this for others, but do we believe this for ourselves? Do we trust and believe what God says in His Word about me?
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
"For with God nothing will be impossible." Luke 1:37
Do not lose your hope, friends, for from it faith is birthed.
Autumn has long since past, but on my walks I notice trees that have retained their dead leaves. It puzzles me to see them, all their life and glory faded. What will happen in the spring? Are these trees dead?
I recently listened to a sermon by Timothy Keller. He was talking about how difficult it is to get rid of unrighteous anger. He likened the process of change in the Christian life to shedding dead leaves. Sometimes you have to wait for the new leaf to push off the dead one.
My father says, “God doesn’t want to just clean up the old man. He wants to give you a whole new nature.”
When we come to God, we can be like these seemingly lifeless trees, full of dead leaves. If God just made something moderately respectable out of the way we are, it would be like spray painting our dead leaves green.
It is working out of the new nature that slowly pushes out the old, dead nature, just like last year’s dead leaves. It is a process that takes time and abiding in the life of Christ.
God says in Isaiah 55:13, “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree…” Our ways produce thorns and briers (frustration and futility), but God’s ways produce beautiful, fruitful LIFE!
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. " John 15:5
"…by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Peter 1:4
"…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24
"Blessed is the man…[whose]…delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3
When I was in high school, my father sensed I was beginning to make friends with those who were not a positive influence in my life. He said to me, “the stronger will influence the weaker.”
In my weakness I was influenced in unrighteousness. I had to ask myself, “is this friend helping me become more like Christ or less like Him?” Quite honestly, at times it was hard for me to say “no” to friendships leading me down a path I knew I should not be on.
The Bible teaches, “Do not be deceived, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:33-34
If your friends are stronger in their habits than you and are influencing you toward a life of righteousness, praise God for those friends! But if they are influencing you toward unrighteousness, it is time to find new friends, those who will encourage you toward godliness!
Also, do not just ask yourself how you are being influence, but are you yourself being a good influence on others? Are you positive, encouraging, do you speak the truth in love? Or do you excuse sin and speak negatively?
Let us be those who pull others up toward righteousness.
"We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification." Romans 15:1-2
"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." James 5:19-20
"Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God." 3 John 11
"But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person." 1 Corinthians 5:11
"…keep oneself unspotted from the world." James 1:27
Happy New Year, friends. In honor of the new year and making resolutions I thought I’d share from the treasured wisdom of my father…
I spent the first eight years of my life in East Lansing, Michigan. I have a few vivid memories of the harsh, cold, snowy winters. I remember staring out from the car window and only seeing a white wall of snow. My father says the ice would build up in the wheel well of our car, making it difficult to drive. At times he would have to stop to chip away at the ice build up.
He told me that during such a laborious incident of ice-chipping he thought to himself, “I bet if I just pointed the car toward Florida and kept driving, by the time I get there all the ice will be completely melted away.”
As you reflect on the past year and your hopes for a new year, perhaps you are feeling weighed down by disappointment, bitterness, poor habits, and sin. The answer for ridding yourself of the build up is not to sit and chip away at it, but to turn your life in the direction of Jesus. My father says, “by the time you get to Jesus all the junk in your life will be melted away.”
Point your life’s compass toward Jesus. He has the power to free you of any burden that is hindering you on your journey.
I overheard my Father and my Husband talking last night about fellowshipping family. He said, "you haven’t had true Christian fellowship until you have edified each other in some way."
Dad reminded Chad of the Scripture, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) This should be especially important to remember as we gather together at Christmas to celebrate. Let us seek to edify, to build each other up, and encourage FAITH.
"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another."(Romans 14:19)
"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." (Ephesians 4:29)
What My Father Says About God Repeating Himself...
I recently heard a Christian speaker share a profound discovery in his study of the Old Testament Scriptures. The phrase “know that I am God” is repeated dozens of times, but the majority of which can be found in the book of Ezekiel. He commented that in Hebraic writing, repetition is a way to put an exclamation point (!) on what is being said, such as “Holy, Holy, Holy…” meaning God is the ultimate holiness there is!
Hearing this brought to mind something my father taught me. When he was in college he discovered the best way to study for his college examinations was to listen for when his professors would repeat themselves. After he became a Christian he applied this to his study of God’s word, as well.
He said, “watch out when God repeats Himself, it’s going to be on the test!”
My Dad spoke of this lesson especially in reference to the phrase “the just shall live by faith.” This is repeated four times in Scripture, in Habakkuk, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. This was something that stood out to my father as being “on the test” because it is the way God is saying we are to live! God made a way, by faith, through Jesus Christ. The way is not through the works of the law, but through believing in the atoning work of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. We exchange our failure and sin, for Christ’s victory and righteousness, BY FAITH! This is the only way to truly LIVE!
Friends, watch for when God repeats Himself, it’s going to be on the test, it is His exclamation point!
"For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness…" Romans 4:3-5
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." Romans 1:16-17
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"- Jesus Christ in Matthew 13:9 (the Parable of the Seed and the Sower)
So I just noticed Chad had my blog open and I was like, “ugg!” The bright white and yellow just was not working. Uninviting. I’m not sure I even like it now, but I’ve toned it down with my favorite colors, orange and gray.
What My Father Says About Honoring Your Parents...
My friend recently resolved a conflict with her parents. They had different perspectives regarding their disagreement, the perspective of a parent and the perspective of a child. My friend’s vision was clouded by her hurts, so she could not properly see the love her parents have for her.
She wanted their friendship, not their discipline.
It reminded me of something I learned in my relationship with my father. He used to say, “you only have one father, you can have many friends. It’s my job to be your father first.”
Why do we want our parents to be like our friends? Because friends don’t usually disagree with us or rebuke us. We love praise and affirmation from our parents, but we don’t always love their discipline. This is contrary to what the Lord teaches us:
"For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6
Scourges? Doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it? But it says He does it BECAUSE He loves us! Proverbs actually says you hate your child if you don’t discipline him (Prov. 13:24). Discipline leads to righteous living…
"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
We would be wise to receive discipline when it comes from those the Lord has put over us, whether that be a parent, husband, pastor, boss, etc. God is a Good Shepherd and sometimes must shepherd us with rebukes.
Further food for thought from the Scripture:
"Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." Ephesians 6:1-3
"Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you." Hebrews 13:17
"The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left [to himself] brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15
"A wise son [heeds] his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:1
"And He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:6
What My Father Says About How We Use Our Mouths...
Does your mouth get you into trouble? Oh man, mine does!
I remember a prayer my father taught me on how to use my mouth, "Lord, help my mouth to be an instrument of your righteousness." I believe this is a good way to submit my life and tongue to the Lord each day, something I need to put into practice!
If your tongue behaves as badly as mine, here are some verses we can look to for direction on how we should and should not use our mouths…
"If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body…the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" James 3:2,5
"But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." James 3:8-10
"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Ephesians 4:29 (note words "necessary" and "grace")
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Colossians 4:6
Have you read the warnings in Proverbs about our speech?
Wisdom says, “the perverse mouth I hate.” Prov. 8:13
"In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise." Prov. 10:19
"A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart." Prov. 18:2
"He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him." Prov. 18:13
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Prov. 18:21
"…a flattering mouth works ruin." Prov. 26:28
"Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Prov. 29:20
What does Proverbs say we should do with our mouths???
"The lips of the righteous feed many…" Prov. 10:21
"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones." Prov. 16:24
"He who has knowledge spares his words…" Prov. 17:27
"Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles." Prov. 21:23
Several of you have shared how touched you were by the Lord during my father’s message at Door of Hope on Sunday, and specifically the encouragement to be thankful. This also stood out to me. So, by way of a reminder for us all…
Dad says, “the most basic way to activate faith is through thanksgiving.” He taught us on Sunday that thankfulness is a barometer for one’s walk with the Lord. And that it is through thanksgiving we enter the gates of God’s presence.
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name." Psalm 100:4
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of [our] lips, giving thanks to His name." Hebrews 13:15
By giving God thanks it causes me to look up to Him and see the good He has already done, rather than look at myself, my circumstances, and what is not going right. Suddenly, when I am thankful, my perspective starts to change and I can better see God and His faithfulness.
I think the devil wants us to believe God is not good and is not looking out for us. This is a lie. The very nature of God is that He is good. He is our Father who loves us. And He laid down His life for us on the cross to take our place, paying the price for our sin. How good God truly is!
"But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
"Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders [his] conduct [aright] I will show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23
Please feel free to share here with all of us how the Lord spoke to you through the message on Sunday so we can all be reminded…
My father says, “the Gospel means “good news.” If it isn’t good news, it’s not the Gospel.”
Pastor Charles Simpson says the Lord told us “feed My sheep,” not “beat my sheep.” :)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7
My father says, “if you are depressed, find someone more depressed than yourself and serve them.”
I can tell you from personal experience, it is encouraging to help others in their time of need. It will lift your own spirits in your time of trial. Many of us have things that bring us down in life, but if we stay focused on our problems that is all we will see. If you look up and begin to look around you, you’ll find others who need encouragement, too.
"Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
God will comfort you, so you can bring comfort to others. It is a beautiful thing.
I was reading Philippians the other day and was struck by a certain passage that I want to share with you…
"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:8-14
The first paragraph spoke to me of seasons in the journey of faith, seasons that go to the mountain tops where we experience the power of His resurrection and seasons in the valley where we fellowship His sufferings. Fellowshipping the power of the resurrection teaches us that the same power that rose Christ from the dead can help us have victory in this life too (see also Ephesians 1:19-20). Fellowshipping His sufferings teaches us to die to ourselves, just as Christ laid down His life for us (see also John 15:12-13).
The second paragraph spoke to me of not staying in whatever season you are in, but continuing to move forward. I know there have been times where I feel stuck, either on the mountain top (which you might think would be a good thing), or in the valley. But the mountain top is not the final destination. Nor do I want to wallow in the valley in bitterness of soul or the fear of moving forward. Instead, “I press toward the goal…”
My father taught me “faith is the vehicle that moves us forward.” Faith is active, faith grows, and faith can be strengthened. Remember another one of my Dad’s sayings, “if you don’t want to go by faith, you cannot go!”
I know I’ve shared a lot about faith in this blog, but it is one of the key ingredients to the Christian life. I don’t know about you, but I want to continue to move forward, to grow, to mature, to become more like Christ.
How does this apply practically? How can you exercise your faith in such a way that will move you forward?
Well, my father taught me another cool practical faith exercise…at the beginning of each year he used to ask me what two or three things God was speaking to me about - areas God wanted to perfect, strengthen, or bring under discipline, specifically the areas of my relationship with God, relationships with family or friends, and my work. So, I would spend time with the Lord and ask Him to speak to me.
Chad and I periodically do this exercise together and hold each other accountable to obeying what God is saying. Our first New Year we spent together, we fasted for three days and asked God these very questions. The two things I remember were He wanted us to find a church to commit to and He wanted us to look for a new house. Within two months He had answered both these prayers as we sought His will by faith. It was so encouraging, and we saw great fruit come from both these changes.
I encourage you to go through this exercise periodically, so that you can grow in faith and “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of” you for. It is an exciting adventure!
My father taught me a lot about Jesus being the perfect example for all things, and how we are to follow in His footsteps. One such example is baptism.
Many say that baptism holds no significance, that it is merely symbolic. I disagree on many levels, but the simplest explanation is that even Jesus was baptized! How could baptism not be an important step in the Christian life if even Jesus was baptized???
My father says, “if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”
Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. So, baptism in His case was not for the remission of sins, but rather to “fulfill all righteousness,” as He Himself explained to John the Baptist in Matthew 3:15. Jesus did this to show us the steps of a righteous life.
And how did His Father affirm His decision? “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
We have some good friends getting baptized today. Unfortunately we can’t be there to celebrate with them, but we pray they will feel their Heavenly Father’s loving affirmation as they follow in the steps of Jesus.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen." Matthew 28:19-20
Recently a friend of mine was hit with quite a hefty bill without the finances to pay it. Here are some of the words I shared with her as she was seeking God to know how to deal with this heavy burden…
God loves you. He is a covenant God - that makes your problems His problems. He cares and wants to set all these things right so you aren’t weighed down by the cares of the world (Matthew 6), but rather under His yoke which is “easy and light.” Psalm 23 says “Your rod and staff comfort me.” The rod represents the Father’s discipline, the staff is what the Shepherd carries as He leads you to pasture. May you find comfort knowing God will lead, provide, and protect as you submit everything to Him.
Jesus is a bondage breaker, the mighty deliverer of His people! He alone can set you free from debt. Read Isaiah 61. This is the ministry of Jesus! And this is what He can provide for you! AMEN!
Can I share a few thoughts with you? I hope you don’t mind…
1. Take some time to share this with your husband tonight and confess the whole situation to him. You are in covenant together, a TEAM. Your problems are his problems. Amos 3:3 says “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” My dad taught me, “who better should AGREE than a married couple.” Come into unity on your finances and face the weight of it TOGETHER.
2. Start confessing faith not fear. Your mouth is a very important tool against satan. With it we wage warfare by profession, praise, prayer, and our testimony. A good way to start confessing faith is to thank God for all the ways He has come through for you, what He has provided. God loves thanksgiving, it is the way we enter His courts. Hebrews 11 tells us “without faith it is impossible to please Him, because those who come to Him, must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” You MUST believe that He is a REWARDER.
3. Be totally honest with God. He already knows what is in your heart, it is best to bring all of it into the light, so God can bring healing and restoration (1 John 1). Remember the Word says, “humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter)
4. The enemy’s work is to kill, steal, and destroy. When Abraham lay the sacrifice out for God to pass through, he had to shoo the buzzards away from stealing it. Sometimes we have to shoo the devil away from stealing from us. Together you can pray for protection from the schemes of the enemy.
5. Finally, here are some good sermons on finances by Derek Prince. The dictionary definition for prosperity is: a successful, flourishing, thriving condition…don’t you want to thrive in life? I know I do!
I also really recommend reading that book on faith I gave you by Derek (Faith to Live By)…It speaks to the issue of not having enough, having just enough, and having more than enough.
Jesus reveals Himself as the Christ (anointed One) to this woman. And what does she do with what God has shown her? Does she hide it? NO! She returns to her town and tells others about Jesus. And it says, “many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.”
I would like that to be said of us and our city……”many people in Portland believed in Jesus because of the WOMEN who testified.”
So, I have three main points to ponder to hopefully encourage you to testify…
1. First, if you are going to share the Gospel, you can’t be ashamed.
a. Romans 1:16
b. The devil wants you to shut up, so he makes you feel ashamed or embarrassed
c. This seems to be especially true of Portland
d. Just start bringing Jesus into conversation
2. If you are going to testify, or be a witness for Jesus, share from your heart, not your head.
a. Jesus touched this woman’s heart
b. The people in her city saw her heart changed and followed her to Jesus.
c. “Come, see a man who told me all things I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
d. You don’t have to go to seminary to explain the Gospel and Jesus.
e. You don’t have to make Jesus seem intellectually respectable, He stands on His own merits, because He is the TRUTH!
f. So, if you are going to share, share from your heart…share how Jesus loved you and changed you. Share your own story.
3. It is our job to introduce people to Jesus; it is the Holy Spirit’s job to reveal Him as God.
a. The Holy Spirit brings people to a place of repentance where they can receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
b. We just have to point the way!
c. Read verse 42
d. People aren’t going to simply take your word for it, they need to meet Jesus for themselves, they need to have their own heart change.
e. John 1:35-50 “Come and See!”
f. Simply testify to what you know, and bring people to Jesus, He will reveal Himself.
Matthew 5:14-16 – Let your light shine!
“Many” came to Christ because of one woman’s testimony; will this be said of each of us? I hope so!