Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seek to Please

Who is God to you?  Is He a distant creator who just lets the world run on its own without concern for His creation?  Is He a creator who cares but only has time for the really big issues?  Or is He a creator that can take care of the little things but the big major problems just need to be handled by us?  Those statements are what many people think of God, but I know He is so much bigger than that!  I know God is our creator and I know that He cares and loves us so much that we cannot even comprehend a fraction of His love.  I know that He is all knowing and all powerful and can work in the little and the big.  There is nothing too small to catch His attention and there is nothing too big for His mighty power.  Our God is awesome and powerful and honestly I do not think there is a language here on earth that can fully describe Him.  So, you would think that such an incredible creator who can do so much would want so much in return.  But the reality is, He just wants us to believe Him and seek after Him.  When we seek and believe our God, everything else falls into place and we will please Him.  Please use the link and read Hebrews 11:6.

It is right there - in order to please God we must have faith in Him.  We are told that He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.  Oh, what a reward it is!  Earlier this week in Jeremiah 11, we learned that when we seek God with all our hearts, we will find Him.  He is our reward.  If it is that simple, why does it seem so hard?  I know for me, it is easy to get so caught up in the external things that I can see and physically experience.  Life is concrete, it is easy to have more faith in what we see and understand to be real.  God is very real, but we cannot see Him.  We can know and believe He is real and we can even believe that nothing is impossible for God.  But what we see sometimes outweighs what we cannot see and our problems can seem bigger than God.  I think that is why it pleases God so much when we seek Him and believe Him.  We fix our thoughts on Him so we can remember that our Creator is so much bigger than this world and He cares about us.

Did you realize when you seek and believe God you are pleasing Him?  What area of your life do you need to seek and believe God even more?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Seek First

I have had a mental struggle over the last few days because something is lost.  It is something important and expensive and I have prayed a lot over it.  I even know that God can help us find it and return it to our home; however, when I go and pray it is something that I find myself immediately thinking about.  Even with that lost item at the top of my mind, there were other issues surrounding me clouding my mind as I went to pray this morning.  I usually start out praising God for who He is when I begin praying in the morning, but today I just jumped in with all my concerns.  Instead of feeling peace, I found my stress building.  That's not supposed to happen!  Can you relate to this scenario?  You go to give your worries to God and instead you feel like you're just rehashing everything all over again and feel the anxiety growing in your heart.  Even with the stress feeling building this morning, I felt God telling me to look up a verse that tells us to seek Him first and as I looked it up I realized what my issue was this morning.  Please use the link and read what Jesus had to say about worry and seeking God in Matthew 6:31-34.

Knowing how I approached my time with God this morning, can you see how the Holy Spirit is showing me what is really wrong?  God knows how important and expensive this item is and He also knows what is needed.  And know and believe that!  But when I approached Him this morning, I wasn't really seeking time with Him, I just rehashed my worries.  Please don't think I'm saying that we shouldn't go to Him with our worries and concerns!  I go to Him with my day to day concerns all the time.  That wasn't the issue for me this morning.  The issue was a heart issue.  I wasn't seeking Him first in all my stuff - I was seeking my stuff first.  Do you see the difference?

There will always be those moments throughout the day when we just need to call out to Him for help.  God wants us to do that - He wants to be the one we turn to at any moment.  The issue at stake this morning is that my problems were becoming the first thing on my mind rather God.  I want this item to be found and that became my consuming thought as I approached my time with Him.  I believe this is why I didn't feel the peace I often feel after praying.  When I make Him number one on my list everything else falls into place.  When He is out of that spot, the stress builds and everything becomes a jumbled mess in my mind.  So, as I go throughout this morning and begin to stress over the items on my mind I will pray to God, "Lord I trust you with my concerns!  Help me put my focus on You first."

Are you seeking after God first?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Seek and Find

Growing up, my parents installed an above-ground swimming pool in our backyard.  We were the only house on our street with a swimming pool, so all the kids living on our street would come over to play in our pool.  A game that we all liked to play was Marco Polo.  This was a game where a person (it) would have to close their eyes while everyone else would scatter in the pool.  When the person who was "it" would call out "Marco," everyone had to answer "Polo!"  The person who was "it" would then try to tag everyone in the pool based on sound rather than sight.  The funny thing with this game was that the person playing it could be face to face with someone and not even know it.  If you were particularly bold you would even follow or stand very close to the person who was "it." But that was a dangerous place to be because if "it" called out "Marco," you were certain to be found and tagged.  Being "it" could be frustrating in that game because you sometimes felt a little isolated even though you were in a pool full of people.

Sometimes we can feel that way with our walk with God.  There can be times where you feel like you've lost touch with Him and you feel isolated.  During those times, it is important to remember that God is always there and He always knows where you are.  It isn't God who is lost, it is us who has lost sight of where God is.  We can feel like we are calling out to Him with no results; however, that really isn't the case.  God is always listening and always caring.  Yesterday, I explored Jeremiah 29:11-14, where we read that when we seek God with all our heart we will find Him.  I want to look at what Jesus said about seeking God in Matthew 7:7-8 (please use the link).

In these verses, we see the promise that when we seek God we will find Him.  God knows who truly wants to find and know Him and He will reveal Himself.  If we already have a relationship with Him, maybe He wants us to find a new aspect of Himself.  Maybe we've wandered a bit with all our distractions and He wants us to seek Him out and get back on track on our walk with Him.  Either way, don't be discouraged!  If you feel like you've lost touch with Him - pray.  Seek Him out and pray that He will reveal Himself to you.  He promises that you will find Him.  When you find Him, you will be amazed to see that He has been close to you the whole time.

Have you lost touch with God?  Have you searched for Him?

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"I Will Be Found By You"

Have you ever been in a season of life that just seems dry?  Maybe you're tired out and drained by all the activity going on in your life.  Maybe it has been a painful time that has overwhelmed you and it is difficult to see anything beyond the hurt.  There are so many reasons why we can feel dry and deserted; however, when we follow God we can always have the assurance that we are never alone.  Even if we feel alone, we are not alone.  As my church has started a journey on prayer, my pastor preached a sermon about seeking God.  It struck me how just the topic of seeking God could probably be a sermon series in and of itself.  What a blessing it was this morning seeing what the verse of the day was on Biblegateway.com!  I realized that God was just preparing my heart on what He wanted me to spend some time.  So, with that said, I am happy to start a new journey on "Seeking God."  Please click on the link and read what God has to say about seeking Him in Jeremiah 29:11-14.

One thing I want to make sure I point out is that this is specifically a promise that God was giving to the Israeli exiles in ancient Babylon.  God promised to bring them back home and promised to prosper them.  There are many promises that are given to all believers in the Bible, but some promises were given to a specific person or group of people.  However, something that I have learned is that even though there are promises that are not specifically spoken over us in the Bible, we can certainly pray them over our lives.  The promise of finding God when we seek Him is something I believe we can pray over our lives.

Often when we find ourselves in a dry period, we also struggle seeing God working in our lives.  That doesn't mean He isn't working, it just means we struggle to see Him.  I have noticed that when I am experiencing something overwhelming or even something new, I can forget to look for Him.  But there are some things that God says in these verses that I find so encouraging!  He tells us that if we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him.  In fact, both the NIV and NLT word the beginning of Jeremiah 29:14 the same, "I will be found by you."  Isn't that encouraging!?  Don't you also find it interesting that God doesn't say that He will find us...we will find Him.  He always knows where we are, but He wants us to seek Him.  I hope you join me over the next few weeks as we explore how we can seek God in our lives.

Are you feeling dry or lost?  Are you ready to pray the promise of finding God into your life?

Friday, February 14, 2014

No Greater Love

As I finish up my study on how God renews and restores our lives, I wanted to take a look at what Jesus said His expectation was for us.  In John 15:12-14 (NLT) Jesus said, "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command."  We are to love each other in the same way Jesus loved us.  I don't know about you, but that seems like a very tall order to me!  But when we remember that the Holy Spirit resides in us and empowers us to do the very things that God wants, we do not have to feel like we are being asked to do the impossible.  With God, all things are possible and that includes Him giving us the ability to love each other the way Christ loves us.

We are not all going to die in a literal sense for each other; however, we will have other things we die to in order to love one another.  When we love each other, we are laying down our pride and personal preferences.  We may be laying down our comfort.  We may be laying down our time.  There are so many things that we have to lay down in order to love each other, but this is what Jesus asked of us.  Jesus reminds us that this is what His friends do.

Are you doing what Jesus told all of us to do?  Are you living a life that reflects how Jesus' love has changed you?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sharing Love

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, which has a lot of couples scrambling to buy flowers, jewelry, and get dinner reservations.  One thing I really appreciate about my husband is that he is often doing things to show me how much he loves me, so the need to do something on Valentine's Day isn't as important to me.  It has me thinking today about God's faithful love - He loves us each and every minute of the day.  There is no special day set aside where we experience His love once a year, He loves us all the time.  The greatest expression of His love for us happened on one day; however, its effect is eternal.  When Jesus died on the cross, He did it for all people throughout all of time.  Isn't that amazing?  We are told in John 3:16 (NLT), "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."  That promise goes out to everyone who believes in Jesus.

When we believe who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we have the promise and hope of eternal life.  Eternal life with our Creator; eternal life with our Savior.  That is amazing love that truly is something our human minds cannot fully comprehend.  But, it is a faithful love that will always keep its promise.  This is the very reason we are transformed and made into a new creation.  All this week I have explored the idea that we are changed because of love; therefore, we should be showing God's love to the world.  The very love that changed us lives in us and it should be seen in all that we do.  God didn't give this love out for us to keep to ourselves - He did this so that no one would have to perish.

How are you sharing God's love?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lumens and Watts

When I think about it, I am amazed at how much light changes a room.  Have you ever been somewhere that was so dark you couldn't even see your hand waving in front of your face?  When in such a dark place, just a tiny light makes all the difference.  Prior to electricity, people used candles and oil lamps to light a room.  We look at candles as inadequate lighting only good for ambiance because we have become accustomed to bright light.  The other day I was at a home store and was amazed at how there was an entire aisle just for light bulbs - not light fixtures, light bulbs.  As I was waiting for my husband I was looking at the different descriptions for each LED and fluorescent light bulb.  They were measured in both watts and lumens to describe how much light they would give and how soft the light would be.  A few days after that, my son was watching a video about light and the video explained how light pollution completely changes our view of the night sky.  I'm sure all of you have experienced how amazing the sky is when you are in a place with very little light pollution.  For me, there was a time when I was camping on a Texas beach at the Golf of Mexico and saw the Milky Way and was amazed.  Another time was when I was in a remote village in Zambia and was amazed at the white sky!

Jesus said that we are the light of the world; specifically we have His light in us.  Please use the link and read Matthew 5:13-16.  When we are at church, it is kind of like having a lot of watts and lumens in one room, or a sky white with the Milky Way.  Our light isn't nearly as significant to us because we have become accustomed to seeing the beauty of so much light in one place.  However, imagine how that must (or should) look to someone coming to church for the first time.  Do we seem different enough that our light is noticeable?  What about when we are not at church and we are in the world?  Why would Jesus refer to us as the light of the world.  Do you think it was so we could shine our lights with each other, or do you think it was so our light could shine in the darkness?  Don't get me wrong; collectively our lights should shine great amounts of light and show people there is a wonderful hope in Jesus.  However, when we shine our lights while we are at work, school, in the store, or wherever we may be there is also a big impact.

When we are told that we are created as new creatures when we come to Christ, this announces God's glory.  This reveals the incredible work that He wants to do in all of us.  We are told to go into all the world and tell people about this great hope we have in Jesus; but we do not have to participate in the practices of the world.  It is when we are different that our light shines.  We don't have to be afraid of the dark because the light of the world is living in us.  God wants us to share His light with everyone.

Are you shining your light in the world?

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's the Point?

Throughout the month of January, I focused on different ways that God renews our hearts and restores us to Him.  This week, I want to finish this focus by looking some possible reasons why God doesn't just bring us to Him but changes us completely.  Something I have learned in my walk with God is that He always has a purpose.  We may not recognize the purpose and things can happen that seem to make absolutely no sense, but God has an overall purpose and He will make all things work toward His purpose.  The thing that has me thinking this morning is love.  There are many places in the New Testament where we see God's desire is that all people would turn to Him, but we also see that He wants us to be a part of that.  But in order for us to be a part of that, we need to have love for other people.  Please use the link and read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

God loves all of us - He created us and loves us dearly.  He wants to see all of us to come into His kingdom, which is why Jesus died in our place.  So, when you think of how great His love is for us (so great that we cannot even comprehend how great His love is), what does it mean to you as His follower?  He renews us and restores us so that we will be like Him; this includes His love.  I will be the first to admit that without Him working in my heart it is impossible for me to love others.  But, when I begin to look at the people around me as someone God loves with the same passion He loves me, my attitude changes.  The Holy Spirit shows me where He wants to take over my self-centered nature and love others - even the person that seems to constantly rub me the wrong way.  This helps change what motivates me.  When we love others, people will be drawn in to God's kingdom.  We are called to bring others into God's kingdom, what better way than to reflect the love that God has for them?

Are you allowing God's love to change your heart?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It Begins With Our Thoughts

What is important to you?  What are your priorities?  Have you experienced a change in your passions and priorities as a result of following Jesus?  Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) says, "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." 

We are to let God transform us into a new person by changing the way we think.  Isn't that interesting?  Something I have grown to learn is that it all starts with our mind - we have to let God renew our mind because that is where everything we do starts.  What we say, how we respond, the choices we make all reflect what is going on in our mind.  These verses remind us that when we choose to follow Christ and put our faith in Him, we give ourselves fully and completely over to God.  Everything belongs to Him - our bodies and our minds.  This renewal is a prerequisite for what God's plan is for our lives.  We are told that once we surrender our thoughts over to Him, we will learn to know God's will for us.

Have you let God change your thinking?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ambassadors

This week is going to be a very busy week for me and I already know that writing my usual posts in the morning will be difficult.  While I may not have time to write out my thoughts, I still want to share with you what I am reading each day.  Spend some time reading and thinking about what God is telling you through the verse and I know you will be blessed.  The verse that I am looking at this morning is 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.  These are verses I looked at a few weeks ago; however, they are on my mind again.  Please take the time to meditate on what it means to be God's ambassadors.  Think about how we become His ambassadors because He makes us a new creation.  It just amazes me to think about the fact that He has made us to represent Him here on earth so we can bring people into His kingdom!