Prepare the Way of the Lord

Behold, I send My messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord. Mark 1: 2-3

This verse in Mark is talking about John the Baptist.  It fulfilled two Old Testament prophesies.

Behold, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.  And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold He is coming. Malachi 3:1

A voice is calling, Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley. Isaiah 40: 3-4

According to the King James Bible study notes, in this era, roads were fixed before kings would travel them.

Jesus, being king, had a messenger preparing the spiritual road for him.

What does it mean spiritually to have “every valley lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low”?

He fixes our misconception.  He tears down our wrong ideas and beliefs and fixes our doubts (our low points). When this is done, you have a straight path.

You know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

How do my misconceptions and doubts get leveled or raised? I must meditate on the Word.  I must spend time with Jesus.  Reading books about God, and hearing preachers preach dynamic messages are good; however, it CANNOT replace time in the Word and prayer.

I remember thinking that God in the Old Testament was harsh.  He wiped out entire civilizations.  Even the women and children were killed many times.

Thinking this way about God affected my time with Him.  I’d picture Him as a God ready to pass out judgement.  It was a wrong idea of God that had to be torn down.

When I actually read the Old Testament, I saw grace.  Grace extended to anyone who wanted it. I saw a God who loves His people.  I saw a God that looked at creation and said “It is good”.

Seeing Him this way makes me want to know Him more. The paths are straightening little by little.

Remember, fixing roads is a very messy and slow business.  It will not happen overnight.  It’s the day in, day out time with the word.  If things start looking like a mess, just trust the process. A mess does not mean failure.  A mess means work is being done.

Advertisements

I Want it ALL

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27: 50-51

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Lately I have been thinking about Jesus’ crucifixion.  That He would chose to become a man, a perfect man, all to take my place.  He died so that I could live.

As I have been really thinking about this truth, I realized something.  I had lost the wonder of this statement.  The cross had become common.  I had become calloused to the price He paid.

I wonder how many people are in the same position I was in? We hear Jesus crucified all the time, and it becomes normal.  It becomes common.

What He did was not normal or common. What He did is beyond my comprehension. It is the most beautiful depiction of love, and He did it for me.  He did it for you.

When Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn.  He gave us access to the Most Holy Place.  His blood (if I chose to accept it) has made me righteous.  I can go and commune with the Most Holy God.  I, an extremely flawed human, can go into the Holy Place and live.

Think about it, You can commune with God! If that doesn’t make your heart move, meditate on it until it does.

Jesus died for my salvation, but for so much more than that.  He has given me access to Him, to God. When I don’t use that free pass into His presence, am I wasting the precious blood that He used to pay for me to be allowed in?

I want it ALL.  I want ALL that His blood has paid for.  I’m not allowing the lies of the enemy that shout at me that I am not good enough to keep me from meeting with God.  Truth is, I am not good enough.  But, it isn’t about me, it’s about Him.  His blood has made me righteous.  I will show how thankful I am by meeting with Him.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:28

Make Your Home In Me

Monday night during Prayer, we sang the song “Make Your Home in Me”.  The song is by Ben Walther, and I believe it is a well known song.  Anyway, as I was singing I started really thinking about what I was saying.  Make your home in me.

I started thinking about my home.  My home is a place I feel comfortable.  I have decorated it with things that I like.  I rest in my home.  My home isn’t fancy, but it’s mine and I like being in my home.

Another thought, I have never asked my home if it is OK with the things I do.  I didn’t ask what type of furniture it wanted.  I don’t worry about my home’s opinions at all.

That is how I want to be with the Lord.  I want Him to move in whichever way He sees fit, and completely trust him.  I want my heart free from any offense or bitterness.  When He uses trials to rearrange things in my heart, I want to trust that His leadership is good.

Obviously a blaring difference is that my home cannot communicate and I can.  I think Jesus loves communicating with me.  How often have I said, “I just want to be used by God”.  When what I really meant was I want Him to use me in the way that I am thinking of at this moment.

Slowly, and so tenderly He is leading Me to a place where my heart is more in love with Him.  I don’t ever wanted to be offended by the way He chooses to mold me.  After all, He is the Potter, and I am the clay (Isaiah 64:8).

Very Present Help

Have you ever walked through a difficult circumstance? Have you ever faced trials and hardships?

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1: 2-3

While walking through the difficult times, did you “consider it pure joy”? I admit, I don’t do this very well.

Often, instead of considering it pure joy, I feel lonely and feel my heart want to draw back from the Lord. There couldn’t be a more wrong way to handle a difficult situation.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Why did the Psalmist chose to say “A very present help”? Why not just present help? Why not just help? I believe every word in the Bible is important.

According to Strong’s concordance:

very – great, diligently, mightily

present – to meet, to encounter

help – one who helps, succor (assistance and support in times of hardships and distress)

trouble – affliction, adversity, anguish

God isn’t just present.  He isn’t just standing near.  HE is near and wants to help.  How often I have felt alone and allowed that feeling to dictate to me who God is.

I feel alone; therefore, God must be far off.  NO! The word says He is my very present help.  I am not alone.

Am I going to chose to believe my feelings or the Word today? Maybe my feelings want to keep coming and stating a case against God. I have to combat that with the Word. My feelings do not get to define God.  Only God gets to define God.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

How do I take every thought captive? I have to speak the word.  There is something that happens when we speak the Word with our mouths.  Don’t just think it.  Say it.

When my feelings start telling me God is far off,  I can combat the lie with, “He is my very present help in trouble”. I may have to say it over and over throughout the day.  The truth will quiet the lie.  I have more control over my thoughts than I like to believe I do.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

I must confess, I haven’t been doing the best job of taking every thought captive.  I have let fears control my thoughts.  But today, I will wield my sword.  Will you?

He Requires Too Much

I’ve heard it said that God has too many rules and regulations.  If I chose to follow Him, he will require me to give up everything I love. If I chose to follow Him, I will miss out on “fun” things.

Well, I suppose that is partly true.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB

He wants ALL your heart, soul, and might.  He wants YOU. He wants ME.

I started to really think about life, and I realized that whatever I decided was going to be the most important thing in my life was going to get ALL of me.

If I desired to be a great business woman.  I would have to devote lots of time and energy into business.  I’d probably miss out on “fun” things because I’d be at work. My identity would be wrapped up in my job.

If I chose to party and do drugs, it would eventually require everything of me.  I have witnessed people fall down the rabbit hole of addiction.  What started out as “fun” eventually lead to extreme destruction.  Drugs and alcohol took everything from them. If I chose that route, my identity would be addict.

If I wanted to, I could easily give my whole life to my kids.  I could spend every waking minute attending to their needs and wants.  My identity would be mom.

You see, no matter what you pursue in life chances are, you will either give it everything or it will take everything.

So, I made a choice to give everything to God. (Certainly don’t do this perfectly but it’s still a choice)

The only thing you can give everything to and not end up empty handed is with God.

My job will fulfill me for a while, but let’s face it everyone is replaceable. Jobs come to an end.

Being a mom is so great.  But if all my identity is wrapped up in raising my kids, what happens when they grow up and move out? (Listen, I am not saying you shouldn’t prioritize your children and love them with fierce mom love.  I am saying that they shouldn’t come before God.  They definitely shouldn’t be god.  I feel like it’s very easy to make kids gods in our lives.)

Deciding to party and try out drugs and alcohol may give you fun for a short while. But eventually you have to face the emptiness you were trying to run from in the first place.

Investing your time in God, has the highest rate of return.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 NASB

I have come to know without a doubt that God is not a harsh, mean God.  He gives good gifts to His children.  He is slow to anger and abounding in love.  He is worthy of my time.  He is worthy of my heart, soul and strength.  I bring little me before Him, and He loves me.

When I give my all to Him, my identity is HIS.

 

Misjudged

Have you ever had anyone make a wrong judgement about you?  Maybe they had second hand information. Maybe they misinterpreted a facial expression. Maybe they just caught you on a bad day.

Whatever the reason, being misjudged can hurt. Getting someone to change their opinion of you can be difficult.

Sadly, often I have misjudged God.  I listened to second hand information about Him.  I have heard half stories, and came up with conclusions.  Unfortunately, I have often come up with wrong conclusions.

One wrong conclusion that I have come up with is that the God of the Old Testament was harsh.  I heard stories of Him wiping out entire civilizations.  Conclusion: Mean! Problem was I hadn’t read all the times He gave them a chance to repent. I also hadn’t read about the horrible things those civilizations were doing.

Let’s be clear.  There is not a God of the Old Testament and then a God of the New Testament.  He is the same God.  Jesus did not force God to start giving grace.  God sent Jesus because He is a God of grace.

God gave everything when He sent His son as a sacrifice for me.  His actions show more love than I can comprehend.  Problem was, I hadn’t really read the Bible.  I would read the two scriptures that were in my devotion and call it a day.  I’d give myself a check mark and call myself a good Christian.  When I started reading the Bible to actually know the God I had been claiming to serve, I realized how many wrong conclusions I had made about Him.

The more I know and experience Him in the Word and in worship, the more I want to experience Him in the Word and in worship. I know that I still have many views and conclusions that need to be corrected.  I’m thankful that He is patient with me and willing to walk me through them.

Challenge: Put away all your conclusions and judgments and read the Bible with fresh eyes.  I’m willing to bet you find out He is so much better than you thought.

 

Serve or Be Served?

The more I read the Word and spend time in prayer, the more I realize how much I need my mind renewed by the Word.  I have wrong motives, and wrong views lots of times.

I was reading in Genesis and this part of Abraham’s story really stood out to me.

 Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. “Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” Genesis 18: 1-5

I find it amazing that Abraham’s response to the Lord coming to Him was “let me serve you”.  I would love to say that that is the same response I would have, but I’m not so sure that I would.  I have a feeling my natural tendency would be to ask God to do something for me.

Looking back on my prayer life, that is mostly what it has been.  Me asking Him to serve me.

“God, I need help with my kids.”

“God, we need a financial breakthrough.”

“God,  I am not feeling great, can you help?”

Now, I do believe we should pray for all things.  I also believe that God wants to help us in all those situations.  However, how often have I gone into the place of prayer just to be with Him? Just to worship Him? Just to really get to know my Savior?

Jesus is not a genie in a bottle.  I can’t take out my magic lamp of prayer whenever I need something.  He longs for relationship.  He wants my heart. Isn’t that amazing?! Jesus, who was there in the beginning, wants a relationship with me.  Who am I to withhold my heart from Him? What an honor to be able to know and commune with God!

Abraham served the Lord, and the Lord didn’t withhold anything from Abraham.  He promised him a son within the next year, and told him His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord even listened to Abraham’s request concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

My greatest desire is to be called a friend of God.