Thursday, October 31, 2013

Through the Curtain

I've had some bosses that were very unapproachable; in fact, they were so unapproachable I would find myself a little nervous going to their office.  It wasn't that I felt that I had done something wrong, they just intimidated me.  On the other hand, I've also had bosses that were extremely friendly and approachable and even when I made a mistake they made me feel like I was still a good employee.  Even though correction isn't fun and I hate disappointing people who are counting on me, I didn't feel like they thought less of me and instead I felt more compelled to do a better job.  I would even go as far to say because they were so approachable I was motivated to do a better job.  I respected them as my boss and understood that I was under their authority, yet I felt like they wanted to make sure their door was always open to me.  Have you ever considered that about our great and loving God?  Do you think God wants us to be afraid to go to Him or do you think that He wants us to know that we can come to Him with anything - even when we make mistakes?  I feel like the picture we get in the book of Hebrews is a God who is great and mighty (there is no one greater!) and we should fear His greatness, yet at the same time He wants us to come to Him.  Please use the link and see the picture the author of Hebrews painted for us in Hebrews 10:19-25.

Let's review quickly some of the things we've learned so far about the promise to enter God's rest.  We've learned faith is essential - we have to believe Jesus' sacrifice covers our sins and allows us to enter God's presence.  The other thing we've learned is obedience to God is a natural extension of our faith in Him and is expected from us if we are to enter His rest.  We've also been looking at the fact that Jesus is our High Priest and there is no need for yearly sacrifices to cover our sins.  And finally, we've looked at the fact that God can be trusted - He always keeps His promises.  You can read the series so far by using this link.  Moving forward in Hebrews 10, we are reminded again that because of Jesus we can boldly enter God's presence.  Isn't that amazing!  We are told that because of the life-giving sacrifice of Jesus, we can enter through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  There is such a special significance behind this statement of the Jesus allowing us to enter through the curtain.  Please use the link and read what we are told happened in the temple when Jesus died: Mark 15:37-39.

God did something literal to allow us to understand something spiritual.  Jesus' death is what opened the curtain for all of us to enter the presence of God.  There was no need to continue feeling the separation between us and God because Jesus made the perfect and final sacrifice - a sacrifice for all ages.  So, instead of fearing death when entering God's presence; we are told in Hebrews 10 that we have been given life and we are made clean.  That is our confidence; that is our hope.  Yes, God is great and powerful and our lives are in His hands - but understand that when you believe Jesus, He is approachable!

Do you believe?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Good Things To Come

All of us have done things we wish we could take back.  That is part of our human nature - we have all responded to a situation in a way that we wish we could have a do-over because we are ashamed of our response.  We have all sinned and in the Old Testament we read how God set up a system where people could take their sacrifices to the high priest so they could experience forgiveness.  But we no longer do that and the New Testament explains why that is no longer necessary.  There are some verses in Hebrews 10 that clearly explains the new covenant that God set up so that we no longer have to go to Jerusalem and present an animal sacrifice.  Please use the link and read Hebrews 10:1-18.

I love the wording of Hebrews 10:1 (NLT): "The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves."  A dim preview of the good things to come...what an awesome statement!  I think it is awesome because we are told in the following verses why it was only a preview.  Jesus came and willingly sacrificed Himself as the final and perfect sacrifice for us.  We no longer have to live with the guilt of our sins and wish for do-overs because Jesus' sacrifice covers it all.  Hebrews 10:14 (NLT) says, "For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy."  We no longer need to continually make sacrifices because His sacrifice was good enough.  It wasn't just good enough, it was perfect!  "And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices." Hebrews 10:18 (NLT).

This is that anchor of hope we have - our sins are forgiveness when we believe Jesus' sacrifice.  Do you believe your sins are forgiven?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Anchor For the Soul

Dictionary.com defines anchor as: "any of various devices dropped by a chain, cable, or rope to the bottom of a body of water for preventing or restricting the motion of a vessel or other floating object, typically having broad, hook-like arms that bury themselves in the bottom to provide a firm hold." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anchor?s=t)  When I think about it, it seems pretty crazy that an anchor can keep a large boat or ship in place.  But the very shape of the traditional anchor helps not only with its weight, but the arms grab hold of the bottom of the body of water.  As I continue looking at entering the rest promised by God, I want to pick up where I left off yesterday and look at Hebrews 6:18-19 (NLT): "So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary."  I love that our hope in God's promise is a "strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls."  What an amazing statement!

When I think of the visual image that our hope in God is a strong and trustworthy anchor, it makes me think of being in the ocean.  There are a couple of verses that I think of when I consider how our hope in Christ is our anchor.  Ephesians 4:13-14 (NLT), "This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth."  Our hope that we hold together will keep us from being influenced by false teachings and lies.  James 1:6 warns us what happens when we are not putting our faith in the hope of God's promise:  "But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind." (NLT).  When our faith is not placed in God alone, that causes our hope to fall apart.  Without that anchor of hope, our souls will be unsettled.  We cannot waver in our hope that we have in Christ.  There is no other hope.

On the flip side, with our hope anchoring our souls, we can enter God's inner sanctuary as Hebrews 6:19 tells us.  I am so thankful that Jesus gave us this amazing hope!  I am so thankful that He is our High Priest and we can enter God's sanctuary with confidence.  There is nothing else in this world that can anchor our souls.

Is the hope you have in Jesus anchoring you?

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, October 28, 2013

An Unbreakable Oath

Being a parent, I have learned that something that gives our kiddos security is a promise.  It seems that they want a promise for a lot of things.  I am very cautious about making promises; however, because I take promises seriously.  It is horrible when we were anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of a promise only to see it broken and I want my kiddos to be able to trust my promises.  Because of that, I make sure that I promise something that I know I can fulfill.  Good intentions are wonderful; however, if I told my kiddos that I will do something, I need to make sure that I do it.  The problem is, I am human and I have made mistakes and promised things in the past that I thought I could fulfill but found out that I couldn't.  There is someone who will always do what He promises and we can place our hope in His promises.  Today, I want to pick up where I left off last Friday and take another look at what Hebrews tells us about our confidence in entering God's rest.  Please use the link and read Hebrews 6:9-20.

I included verses 9-12 in today's reading to help us remember where we left off last week; however, I want to mainly focus on Hebrews 6:13-20.  These verses remind us how important a promise is and we are reminded that usually someone swears an oath by someone even greater than themselves.  But, there is no one greater than our Creator; no one is greater than God.  Since that is so, God swore His promise by His own name.  The writer of Hebrews could write this fact because God has said it before.  Please read Isaiah 45:22-23 (NLT) to see what God said about His promise for salvation:
"Let all the world look to me for salvation!
For I am God; there is no other.
I have sworn by my own name;
I have spoken the truth,
and I will never go back on my word:
Every knee will bend to me,
and every tongue will confess allegiance to me."
 In these verses, we see that our hope for salvation comes from God and He swore this oath by His own name.  That is incredible!  And we also see in these verses that He tells us that He never goes back on His word.  It is the hope that we have in His promise for salvation that we are able to enter into the Most Holy Place with confidence.  Because Jesus is our high priest and He sacrificed Himself for us, we are reminded in Hebrews 6:19-20 that we enter this inner sanctuary through Him.  What an amazing promise!  What a wonderful hope to which we can confidently cling!  God will not break this promise - He doesn't break any promise.  He is who He says He is and He always does what He says He will do.  That is why we know that through Jesus we can enter His rest.

Do you believe and trust God's promise?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Inspire Me Monday.

Friday, October 25, 2013

As Long As Life Lasts

Last week I shared that I was at a Family Ministry conference in Detroit (Orange Tour) and this week I was in Atlanta for the Re:Group Conference.  Needless to say, my head is spinning with so much information - just one conference alone had enough information to fill my brain.  Two conferences within a week was a lot and when I got back from Atlanta I was exhausted.  I got back late Tuesday evening and I worked all day Wednesday.  Wednesday evening, I found myself falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 pm.  When I woke up this morning and looked at the clock, it was 7:53 am!  I honestly cannot remember the last time I slept in until 8:00 am.  All that to say, it was all great and I came back with a lot to sort through.  We were challenged at the Re:Group conference to pinpoint one or two things to focus on when returning to our churches.  That is not easy to do!  But, there is one thing I brought back that I will be chewing on for a while both in my personal life and in ministry.  While at the Re:Group conference, I had the opportunity to hear Andy Stanley share his passion for small groups and he used a phrase: the early church was one-anothering one another.  They were living their faith with one another, loving and growing together.  It doesn't sound related one bit to my current blog theme of Entering Rest; however, let's continue on in Hebrews where we started this journey.  Please use the link and read Hebrews 6:9-20.

"We are confident that you are meant for better things..." (NLT)  Don't you love that statement in verse 9?  "...better things that come with salvation." (NLT)  Salvation is definitely better, and what better things could there possibly be than the promise of entering God's presence?  I want to point out that verses 10-12 show us that it is an active faith that God wants from us.  He wants to see our love for Him lived out in the way we treat each other.  As Andy Stanley said, "one-anothering one another."  The author says in verse 11 (NLT), "Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts..."  This isn't a one time deal or when we feel like it, we are to be one-anothering one another as long as life lasts.  As we have seen all this week, the book of Hebrews lays out how important our obedience is in our faith walk.  In fact, obedience is the evidence of our faith.  We now see an important part of obedience is loving one another; we are told in these verses it is essential to keep us from becoming "spiritually dull and indifferent" (verse 12, NLT).

Continuing on in Hebrews, we see it is through our obedience and endurance we will get to experience the promises God has given us.  One of the promises we looked at earlier last week is the opportunity to enter His rest (Psalm 95).  The author of Hebrews reminds us this is possible because Jesus has already gone into the Most Holy Place as our High Priest and He will lead us there.  That is our great hope we have in our salvation!  Oh how I could keep going, but I will have to leave it there for today and continue on in my next post.  Otherwise this post will be too long!

How are you doing at "one-anothering one another?"

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Our High Priest

In the ancient temple in Jerusalem, there was a place called the Most Holy Place.  This was a place that only the high priest could enter because God's presence was there.  This is where the high priest would give offerings for the people.  This was a place where the high priest had to be made clean before entering because he had to be clean before God.  No one else had access to the Most Holy Place.  The priest actually bore the sins of the people when he presented the consecrated gifts to God (Exodus 28:36-38).  But, when Jesus came and sacrificed Himself on the cross, we are told that He became our high priest and we could enter God's presence with confidence.  Please use the link and read Hebrews 4:14 - 5:10.

Hebrews isn't the easiest text to read; however, there are such powerful truths found in it and I just want to point out something that is on my heart this morning.  In these verses, we are reminded that Jesus is our high priest, but then we see how someone became a high priest.  They were appointed by God-the priesthood was their calling.  The author then shows us how Jesus is now the appointed high priest; there is no need to have any other high priest anymore.  His appointment came through His obedience to the cross.  Remember that we learn in Exodus 28 that the high priest bears the sins of the people when offering the sacrifices to God?  Jesus did exactly that for us when He offered Himself up on the cross as a sacrifice for us all.  The difference is that Jesus was faultless and conquered the shame of death.  These verses tell us that His obedience is why He is our high priest.

Look at verses 8 and 9:  "Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him..."  Okay, when reading these verses, it is important to remember that we are told in several places in the New Testament that it is by grace through faith in Jesus that we receive salvation.  In fact, we are told very clearly that it isn't through any thing we've done that we receive salvation:   "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  (Ephesians 2:8-10).  We can see through both Hebrews and Ephesians that it is through our faith in Jesus that we receive eternal life; however, that faith is evident through our obedience to Him.  We were created to do good works but those works do not save us, they are the evidence of our faith.  Do you see the difference?  We do good works not to receive salvation, but we do good works out of obedience to the One who is our high priest because of His obedience.  How else can I put it other than it is a heart issue.  Are we doing good works for salvation or are we doing good works because of our faith and love for Jesus?

Why are you doing good works?  Do you believe that Jesus is our high priest - our source of salvation?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rest With Confidence

Today's post is going to be a little short because I am typing on the iPad again, and I don't have the luxury of time for the slower typing.  So, I am just going to dig right in and ask you to use the link and read Hebrews 4:8-16.

I love how the author of Hebrews makes so many wonderful connections for us in this chapter.  Yesterday I looked at how we learn to walk in obedience by spending time in the Bible.  Today I want to look at how our faith in God's mercy can allow us to enter His presence and experience His rest.  What a beautiful promise these verses tell us about the fact that we can approach the throne of God with boldness because of Jesus.  Have you ever thought that may be the very rest we are seeking?  Rest from our guilt and shame...rest from condemnation.  That is a wonderful rest for our spirit and we can boldly enter that rest when we believe in the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus.

Do you believe you are forgiven?  Do you understand that you can enter this promised rest with confidence?

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Path to Rest

Have you ever been stuck in an airport?  If so, I'm sure you would agree that it is far from feeling restful - even if you are just sitting in a chair.  For some reason, it is exhausting.  Maybe it is because we are in a public place and we just don't feel like we can let our guard down.  I'm sure there is some research somewhere that has been done on why we can be sitting yet not resting.  What about your spiritual life?  Have you ever been at home relaxing yet you do not feel at peace?  As I start my second week of looking at entering God's rest, I want to continue looking in Hebrews at what God tells us about entering His rest.  Last week I explored the fact that we need to believe God and have faith in order to receive His promise of rest.  I also looked at how obedience is a natural product of our faith.  So, as you read today's verses, please keep in mind that was where we left off last week.  Please use the link and read Hebrews 4:9-13.

Something that is sticking out at me in these verses is the fact that we are told to make every effort to enter God's rest, and then the author seems to suddenly switch topics and start writing about God's Word.  When you think about it, if you were writing a paper for school, you would get marked down for changing topics within your text.  But what if the author in Hebrews wasn't changing topics?  Something that I have been learning over time is when that happens I need to consider that it isn't a change of topic but it is God showing us a connection we just never considered before.  So, in these verses if we consider that the author is continuing on his flow of God's rest and obedience, we have to consider the fact that the author is telling us that God's Word has something to do with entering His rest.

What if we are being told that God's Word is important in our obedience?  We are told in verses 12-13 that His Word penetrates the soul...it is a sharp sword that can divide Soul and spirit.  Perhaps we are being told that as we spend time in His Word it will reveal to us where we need to change - where we need to become obedient.  It is through daily time in the Bible that we can learn how He wants us to live out our faith.  It is through the Bible that we can see how God speaks to each of us and we develop a more intimate relationship with Him.  The truths found in the Bible is the path that leads us to God's place of rest.

Are you spending time in the Bible?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Today the Promise Still Stands

Think back to your elementary years in school.  Did you ever have a teacher that would promise a special treat to the class if they did what was asked of them?  I had a teacher that would give the class a plus or minus for our overall behavior of the day and after a certain number of pluses were accumulated, we would receive a special treat.  Sometimes it would be a pizza party, other times it would be something like an extra recess.  Sometimes, if we were especially good on any given day, we would receive a small piece of candy at the end of the day.  The candy was sitting in her desk just waiting to be given - we just had to do what she asked.  The verses I am looking at in Hebrews 4 reminds us of the promise of rest that is given to those who believe.  This rest was established by God since the beginning of this world.  Please use the link and read Hebrews 4:1-11.

These verses are not the easiest to read through, and if you haven't read them in the NLT I would encourage you to go back to the link and read the verses on the right side of the page.  The first thing we see in verse one is the fact that God's promise for rest still stands.  Yesterday, while looking at Hebrews 3, we were told that we should be encouraging each other in our faith; we should be reminding each other to do the things that are pleasing to God.  In Hebrews 4, we are reminded that this is because we could fall short and miss out on the promise of entering God's rest.  We are told that the promise still stands while it is called today for anyone who chooses to believe God and walk in faith even though this place of rest was established at the beginning of the world.

These verses tell us very clearly that those who will miss out on this rest are those who disobey God.  This is why it is so important that we encourage each other in our walk today.  Obedience is evidence of our faith in Him and we can know that God gave us each other to continue encouraging our walk in obedience.  In fact, the author of Hebrews gives us a sense of urgency to this matter in verse 11, "Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience." (NLT)  The words, "make every effort," give us how important it is today to obey God.  This really is a matter of urgency and we cannot allow each other to slip up and fall short by disobeying.  We cannot save ourselves through obedience - we've already fallen short because none of us has been able to live a life of perfect obedience.  That is why God's grace through Jesus's sacrifice is so amazing.  But we can also see through these verses that a healthy, active faith in Jesus is an obedient faith.  He did not sacrifice so we could keep living the way we choose; He sacrificed so we could be made new.  He wants us to make every effort to continue growing and changing and putting aside the things that displeases Him.  And we will see later in this study, that He even gives us what we need to do that!

Do you believe that the promise of entering His rest still stands for those who believe?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Today Is For Encouraging

For the past two days, I was with the Family Ministry team from my church at a conference in the Detroit area.  One of the presenters was speaking about different ways to build an effective small group ministry in children's and student ministries.  One of his points was to "identify the principle not the problem."  He mentioned that there was far more success when we consistently identified what we want to see rather than constantly pointing out the problems.  So, it is very important that volunteers understand the main priorities in the ministry so that everyone will understand the expectations.  With that said, if corrections need to be made, the leader can approach a volunteer from an angle that reminds them of the priorities instead of negatively mentioning what they shouldn't do.  It is far more encouraging to hear what the leader wants to see rather than what the leader dislikes.  Obviously, this can be applied to any leadership position - it doesn't have to just be for ministry.  In fact, when I used to practice music therapy I learned to encourage the behaviors I wanted to see instead of constantly correcting negative behaviors.  As believers united in Christ, we can also be encouraging and lift each other up in our walk with God.  Please read Hebrews 3:7-19.

This week, I've been exploring what Psalms 95 and Hebrews tells us about entering God's rest.  The word, "today" is used in a way to show us that we need to make sure we are pursuing God and obeying Him on a daily basis.  Where we were in our walk last year doesn't matter if we are straying today.  One of the great gifts God has given to those who follow Him is other followers.  We are united as one body with Jesus at the head and the work we can do collectively can change the world.  Today's reading in Hebrews 3:7-19 demonstrates one of the ways that we can help each other in our walk with God.  Hebrews 3:13 (NIV) says, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."  As long as it is called "today" is such a strong statement, isn't it?  It is always called today, which means this is something that we should always be doing!  So basically, we should constantly be encouraging each other so we can keep from falling into sin.

Encouraging...that is such a big word.  It is a lot easier to tell someone what they shouldn't do, but there is far more success when we encourage each other to do what we should do.  Do you see the difference?  For example, it would be very easy for me to tell my kiddos to quit eating junk food after school, but they  may not know what they should be eating.  While it takes more time, they will be more successful when I tell them what foods they can eat after school.  When I do that, I am encouraging them in the behaviors I want to see from them.  We can do the same with each other in our walk with God.  We can remind each other to praise God for His faithfulness, to read the Bible, to pray and so on.  As long as we call it "today" (all the time) we need to be encouraging each other so we don't get caught in the traps of sin.  Let's encourage rather than judge!

How are you encouraging someone today?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Still Today

I ask for your patience with me this morning and if you see a lot of typos that you understand that I'm writing this frrom my husband's ipad.  It is frustrating  typing from it even with the little portable keyboard.  With that said, please take a look at Hebrews 4.

Yesterday, I spent some time in Psalm 95 where I explored the fact that our faith walk with God is to be an active faith with the daily choice to follow and obey God.  The fact that we gave our lives over to God years ago is great; however, God wants so much more from us!  He wants us to have a daily walk with Him that directs all our choices and keeps us walking in obedience.  It is in that daily obedient life where we get to experience His rest.  In this very busy day and age the promise of rest sounds wonderful.  Notice what the author says in Hebrews 4:6-7.  He focuses on the fact that David used the word, "today."  He points out that God had set aside a day called today, which reminds us of the present and active faith we must have.  Anyone who lives out their faith while it is still called today, we are given the promise of God's rest.

I will go into this further tomorrow because this chapter is so full of gems, but today...this keyboard is driving me crazy!  Perhaps today, we should meditate on what rest God has for us in our obedience.

How do you think God wants to bless you with rest?


Monday, October 14, 2013

Today

There are things that we have to do even if we did it the day before.  We have to take another breath even if we took one seconds ago, otherwise our heart will stop beating.  We have to go to work even if we went to work yesterday, otherwise we will get fired.  Some of these things are not dependent on how many times we did it before, we just have to keep doing it.  If my family told me they were hungry at dinnertime, my response really can't be, "Well, I made you dinner yesterday.  You shouldn't need more dinner today!"  It doesn't matter whether we like it or not, there are just some things where decisions and choices have to be made daily, some every moment of every day.  As I begin to explore entering God's presence, I want to look at Psalm 95 where it expresses the importance of living out our faith each and every day.  Please use the link and read Psalm 95.

Notice that as we read through this psalm, we see several calls to worship of our great God.  But then, it ends with a warning: "Today, if only you would hear His voice..."  Notice that the author didn't say, "It is good that you heard His voice yesterday."  It is good if we listened to Him yesterday, but it is just as important that we choose to listen and obey today.  Living out our faith with Him is a daily choice; what we did yesterday matters for yesterday and what we do today is important right now.  Just because we used to read the Bible and pray regularly in the past doesn't mean that we are where God wants us today.  We need to keep up in our faith walk and spend time with Him every day and choose that we will live that day for Him.

What choices are you making today?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Waiting Quietly

Anyone who is a parent or works with children knows that when a child is excited or anxious, the idea of sitting still and being quiet is almost impossible for that child.  They are either so excited that they must keep talking or moving or their anxiety will make them want to ask a lot of questions or they may even act out.  Either way, it goes against their nature to sit still in that emotional state.  As adults, we may learn to sit still and not respond through talking or moving around; however, our soul may not be sitting still.  Oh how I know that is so true for myself!  Maybe I'm sitting still, but on the inside I could actually be feeling frozen in my anxiety.  It is almost as if my soul spoke out, it would be non-stop nervous chatter.  Can you relate?

The verse I am looking at today is another verse of the day by Biblegateway.com, which also fits in with the study I want to start digging into next week.  "I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him."  Psalm 62:1 (NLT).  This morning I am reminded of what truly matters.  I have been eagerly looking forward today to have a complete day off and some rest after a few busy weeks.  That is one of the reasons this verse caught my attention because the NIV uses the word "rest" in place of "wait quietly."  The term "wait quietly" seems to come closer to the original Hebrew, which is why I used the NLT.  But, physically I am feeling the need for rest.  The thing that the Hebrew tells us is that it is our soul that should be waiting quietly.  But the reason for this rest is the understanding that our salvation or victory comes from God.

The Hebrew word for victory is yĕshuw`ah, which usually means deliverance, victory, or salvation and it can reference that it comes from God (see footnote 1).  In fact, as I looked at the verses that use this word I noticed that the majority of the time this word is used is in reference to God's salvation.  That is where our soul can find rest!  It is in the knowledge and hope that our ultimate salvation and deliverance comes from God.  This makes me even think of yesterdays post where I focused on the fact that it is God's purpose that will win (Proverbs 19:21).  This can give us a different perspective for what we are facing in the moment, because God's purpose will prevail and our deliverance comes from Him.  We just need to trust and wait quietly in Him.

Do you allow your soul to wait quietly before God?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

1. Hebrew Lexicon :: H3444 (NIV). Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3444&t=NIV

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Timing

These last few mornings have been a bit out of the ordinary in my home.  Some of it is because I haven't slept well and I'm moving a little slower, and then my schedule was just a little different.  What that means is that I haven't had a chance to write my first week of the "Entering His Rest" study.  That's fine.  Something I've learned is that God's timing is always best and if He has something specific for me to learn next week, then all the better!  With that said, since I've already missed two days this week, I'll get started next week on my new study focus and today and tomorrow I'll write a few posts similar to what I used to do every now and then on Saturdays.

I was a little unhappy not being able to dig into my study this week; however, when I decided this morning to see what the verse of the day was on Bible Gateway I was so blessed with the reminder that it is God who makes my plans and not me.  I guess He knew I would need that confirmation today!  Here is the verse of the day from Biblegateway.com:

"Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.  Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails."  Proverbs 19:20-21 (NIV)

What a wonderful reminder for my heart this morning!  I can make all the plans in the world, but I really do want God's purpose for me.  I think that this is also a comforting reminder that even when things seem out of control in our world (like the government shut down) it is God and His purpose that will prevail.  We can plan our lives away; however, it is God's plans that will prevail in the end.  Knowing this, it makes sense to surrender our plans and preference to God's otherwise we will be fighting something that is only going to prevail anyway.  Yes, God allows us to make our own decisions; but if we refuse to let His purpose win out in our lives He will find someone else to do His work.  I don't know about you, but I would much rather be working with the One whose plans are going to win out in the end.

Let's pray this morning that our hearts will always be in alignment with His perfect and wonderful purpose.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Entering HIs Rest

Have you ever noticed that it is so easy to fill our time with busy things?  It just always seems that something "important" needs to be done and you are the one who has to take care of it.  I am a person who needs to have down time and I feel it pretty fast if I do not get that time.  Even if I am tired, when I just need to chill I will stay up late to squeeze in some relaxing time.  Having three teens in the house and working 30 hours I can fill up my time effortlessly.  Just a few weeks ago, I was going so hard that I was finding myself desperately needing some rest and I just wanted to have a day where I didn't have to leave home.  I'm sure you know what I mean...we've all had those times when we feel like we need something to stop.  Have you ever thought about that in relation to our spiritual walk?  When we've gone long enough without nourishing our spiritual lives we can feel like we're coming to our breaking point.  As I was spending seven weeks looking at the book of Psalms the idea of entering God's presence and all the promises that are given to those who seek God's presence was something I wanted to explore more in depth.  I know from personal experience that when we seek God, we find treasures that we didn't even know existed.  So, I am very excited about this next study that I am calling, "Entering His Rest."

For those of us who believe in the hope of salvation we have through Jesus, we look forward to the day that we get to be in God's presence.  That is something we cling to when this world shows its pain and brokenness.  But what about right now?  I had a friend read me a quote that reminded me that eternity includes our lives right now, not just our future lives in heaven.  We can experience God's presence and promises even now, we just need to seek Him.  I want to take time to set the stage for the study; please take the time to use the link and read through Hebrews 4.

This is a chapter that is packed with a lot of information and can even be a little confusing in some spots, so I am planning on spending some time going through this chapter.  But what I want to point out today is the importance of entering God's rest.  This is a promise that we all have, but we will also learn that this doesn't just happen; we play an active role in our walk with God.  We are told to "make every effort" to enter the rest that is promised to us (verse 11).  I want to spend some time exploring what that means, because I also see how easy it would be to misinterpret what that can mean.  But what I do know for sure is that God wants us to play an active role in our walk with Him; He wants us to want Him.  He wants us to seek Him and He has beautiful promises for those who do.  I hope you join me as I explore how we can enter His rest and experience His presence.

Do you need to enter His rest?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Just Praise!

I am finishing up my look at the book of Psalms.  In seven weeks, there is no way to read each psalm if I am only looking at one a day; however, I know that I was greatly blessed from the psalms that I looked at.  What a wonderful seven week journey this has been and I know that I have grown in my faith walk as a result of the declarations of faith and truth that were penned thousands of years ago by gifted writers.  Through this journey I experienced a fresh reminder of promises that God has given to those who call Him their God; promises we can all claim through Christ.  I was also given reminders of different ways we can lift praises up to God and how our acts of praise adds beauty to our world.  I was even given encouragement and refreshment through a very tiring and busy week with reminders to seek God's presence in everything.  I hope you experienced God's love and refreshment if you journeyed along with me.

I want to close this study with a Psalm that expresses how we can and should be remembering to praise God all the time:  Psalm 150 (NIV):
Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.
May God bless you as you seek to praise Him more!

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Abundant Praise

Every year, my church has a service held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving where everyone has an opportunity to tell others of the things God has done.  It is a service that incorporates some choruses, but it is mostly filled with spontaneous testimonies told by people in the congregation of the good things they experienced from God in the last year.  It is always so encouraging to hear these testimonies because it is a reminder to all of us that God loves us and cares for us.  When we hear things like, "I prayed for God to help me and He did!" we cannot help but have our faith built up.  It brings us to an even greater desire to praise Him because we understand more and more how great He is.  The psalm I am looking at today starts with a call to worship and then ends on a personal note of God's work in the author's life.  Please use the link and read Psalm 66.

This psalm has been speaking to me in so many different ways this morning that it is hard to narrow it down for this post.  With that said, I just want to give you a few things that are on my mind because of this psalm.  The first thing we see in this psalm is a call to worship: "Shout for joy to God, all the earth!  Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious." (Psalm 66:1-2, NIV)  I was curious how we could make praise to Him glorious, so I looked up that verse on BlueLetterBible.com to see what I could learn.  The word translated as glorious is the Hebrew word, kä·vōde'.  This word means, "glory, honour, glorious, abundance" (see footnote 1).  The word that I noticed in the definition was the word, abundance.  This is because that is the first word used in the sub-points under the main definition.  This is such a good reminder that our praise should be abundant, meaning that it isn't only when we hear a song that moves us on Sunday morning, this praise to God should be in our hearts and on our lips in abundance.  

The author then reminds us of some of the reasons why we praise Him:  
  • "Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind!" (verse 5)
  • "He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping." (verse 9)
  • "Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me." (verse 16)
The author first starts with the good things He has done for all of mankind, then he expresses what God did for Israel, and finally he tells his own story with God.  I love that statement in verse 16,"let me tell you what He has done for me."  We should all be saying that!  We should all be aware of what He has done for us and not just other people.  In fact, perhaps as we hear what God is doing in other peoples' lives, it makes more aware of similar works in our lives.  God is always doing good works and so many of them involve you, you just need to ask God to open your eyes to the good things He is doing in you.  This is what the author had to say about God's work in his life:  "I cried out to him with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue...but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer."  God does listen and He does hear our prayers!  Our praise to Him should be in abundance!

How are you sharing what God has done in your life?  Do you have a heart lifting up praise to Him in abundance?

1. Hebrew Lexicon :: H3519 (NIV). Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3519&t=NIV

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Beauty We Make

All this week, I am looking at psalms that declare praises to God - praises to the One who made us.  Honestly, should there be any other reason to praise Him?  He is God; the very fact that He exists and made us and this incredible world is all we need to praise Him.  Instead, we get caught up in the news of the day and get frustrated with what we see the world doing.  Should we expect the things of the world to be just like God?  Of course not!  But it is so easy to focus on the frustrating and even horrible things that are happening around us and forget how amazing our Lord is.  When we can focus our hearts on Him, we can remember the hope of salvation we have in Him.  When we can focus our hearts on Him and who He is, we can remember that He is the only One who is truly faithful.  This morning, please use the link and read Psalm 33 to remind yourself why and how we should praise Him.

Verse 1 grabbed my attention:  "Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him." (NIV)  The phrase, "it is fitting" made me want to look into it a little more.  When I looked up the original word in Hebrew, I found out that it is the word, na'veh.  Na'veh is translated to mean comely, beautiful, seemly (see footnote 1).  So, you can see why both the NIV and NLT use the word, fitting; however, think about the fact that the word beautiful is a part of that definition.  It isn't just appropriate for us to praise Him, it is beautiful!  Have you ever thought that when you are praising God you are adding beauty to this broken world?  How wonderful it is that God made us not only to enjoy the beautiful creation of this world, but He also made us to add beauty to this world!

The rest of this incredible psalms gives us many reasons for our praise, the first few verses show us the impact of our praise.  We are told to praise with music and instruments; oh, how that makes this musician happy!  It is wonderful to take a gift God gave us with music and turn it into praise for Him; it is beautiful!  We are told that those who use their musical gifts should use them skillfully.  We are to give Him our best when we are giving Him praise; it isn't a after-thought we are giving Him, it is a skilled and practiced gift we are giving Him.  That is beauty!  I believe this extends beyond the gift of music.  Anything we do for God should be done to the best of our ability because it is an act of praise that brings God glory.  When we give Him our best, the world benefits from the beauty we added.  Think about the fact that we are benefiting from the beauty this psalm of praise to God brings to our world.  We are to each add beauty in our praise to God.

How has God created you to add beauty through praise?

1. BlueLetterBible.com:  http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5000&t=NIV

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Because of Who He Is

This morning, I am finding so many things to distract me.  There are news reports about the government shut down, and my kiddos are getting ready for school.  One needs a form signed, another needs to get to school early.  My mind is focusing on the things I need to remember today, and it goes on and on.  I'm sure you can relate because we all have things that divide up our attention and thoughts.  I guess that is why I need this week as I look at psalms that proclaim praises to God.  These are psalms that praise God because of who He is - King of all kings, Creator of everything, our Savior, and the One who will never leave us.  He is so much more than our human minds can even comprehend; so I wonder why it is so easy for the external things to draw my attention away from Him.  Let's take a moment and read through Psalm 97 and remember why we worship Him.

Today's psalm is just a simple reminder for me that no matter what seems important today, God is bigger and is more important than any of that.  So, I need to trust that when I put God in the most honored and important place in my life, all the other things that seem so urgent or important will fall into place.  After all, we cannot forget who God is - He is all powerful and all things come under His command.  Imagine Him in your living room with you right now seated on His throne; I have a feeling that if we could consistently see Him like that our attention would never be drawn away from Him.  Just because we cannot see Him, doesn't make Him less important than the things we can see.  We just need to continually be focusing on His presence.  Remembering who He is can help us to focus more on His presence in our day to day lives and put Him in the place of honor He deserves.  Remembering who He is would keep us from caving in to the temptations we face every day.  Remembering who He is will keep us with a spirit of worship throughout the day.  You know that wonderful feeling you have on Sunday mornings during your favorite song in church...we can feel that way every day throughout the day!  It doesn't just come with a song we relate to, it comes with remembering that we worship Him because He is great, wonderful, powerful, mighty, and loving.

Take some time today and worship God for who He is!

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.