Wednesday, August 31, 2011


When I look closely at the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness, I realize what a great example that is for my own life. Now that I’m conscious of it, I see that time mentioned over and over in other places in the scripture. In this passage, I see a mini-sermon about success.

Success isn’t something I can achieve by working hard or being motivated. It doesn’t come from education or talent. It comes from God.

It seems that God has a prescribed path to success. There are steps I have to take, or stages I have to go through.

  1. I have to pass through a great and terrifying wilderness, filled with things like poisonous snakes and scorpions. But God leads me through it, and blesses me while I’m there. He gives me Living Water when I’m thirsty and feeds me on the Bread of Life.
  2. While I walk in the wilderness He humbles me and tests me for my own good. In other words, He refines me through trials.
  3. But then He leads me into a land flowing with milk and honey. The trials don’t last and when they’re over the blessings are abundant.
  4. When the blessings come, I have to be thankful for them. When I’ve eaten my fill, I must be sure to praise God for the goodness He’s given me.
  5. This is a critical time, because when I’m fat and happy it’s easy to forget the source of the blessings. I have to not forget God – or His commands - in my plenty.
  6. And I absolutely must never say to myself, I did this; I’ve done this with my own strength.
  7. If I remember He is the One who gives me power to succeed, I will.
The success God gives me is a fulfillment of His covenant. In this passage He was talking about the old covenant with Israel, but I’m part of the new covenant, which is sealed with Jesus’ blood (Luke 22:20). It’s of the Spirit, not a matter of written laws (2 Cor. 3:6). So maybe the success God gives me is to live a life pleasing to Him. The only real success I achieve is what I do within the Kingdom of God. 

Success is a result of God’s blessing.
Success comes when He thinks I’m ready (after I’ve been humbled).
Success is a fulfillment of His covenant.
Success comes from the Holy Spirit which is the seal of my salvation.
Success is what I accomplish for His Kingdom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Glorious Destiny

When someone has a close encounter with death, and yet survives, people say, “God spared him/her because He has plans for him/her.” It may be true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to do impressive things by the world’s standards. My son hasn’t written the great American novel (yet), but he’s being a wonderful, supportive and loving husband. My daughter may never be the Secretary of Education, but she’s a fantastic wife and mother.

I think this passage points out that God’s plans are always for the purpose of His honor. 

Nebuchadnezzar’s mind was puffed up with arrogance. God gave him power and God took it away by literally driving him insane. Then Belshazzar who succeeded him, defiled God’s utensils by using them to toast idols. He should have known better because he knew what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar, so God wrote his judgment on the wall.

That’s what not to do. What God wants is for me to honor Him who gives me the breath of life and controls my destiny.

Psalm 73:23-25 says:

 Yet I still belong to you;
      you hold my right hand.
 You guide me with your counsel,
      leading me to a glorious destiny.
 Whom have I in heaven but you?
      I desire you more than anything on earth.

I think the destiny God has planned for me is to honor Him. It is His plan for me to love Him, and only Him. He wants me to recognize that there is no one else, nothing else but Him. When I realize that, I will want Him more than anything on earth because nothing on earth will hold any value to me.

C.S. Lewis said, "God can't give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing." 

So I can be like Belshazzar and use the things of God, including the breath He gave me, to look for something that doesn’t exist, or I can honor God with every breath by loving Him alone.  If I honor God, I’ll get what I wanted in the first place.

That’s what I call a glorious destiny.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A New Wardrobe

When I think about God’s immensity, I catch a glimpse of my own smallness. But I’m not  insignificant because He cares about me. In fact, I can make God sad. He grieves over me when my life doesn’t please Him. I am able to bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by the way I live.

This is true because I belong to Him. He has identified me as His own. He did this by giving me a new nature that He urges me to put on. In a way, it’s as if God’s people wear a uniform. Instead of brass buttons and a gold stripe down the leg, it’s a white robe. But I need to throw off my old clothing and put on the new robe so the Spirit can renew my thoughts and attitudes. 

When I don’t, I grieve the Holy Spirit.

It’s good to clean out my closet once in a while and throw out the old clothes that have accumulated. Let’s see, those lies don’t fit me anymore. And that anger, bitterness and rage; why did I ever think that was attractive? Oh and those harsh words and slander; they never did fit properly. In fact, I’d better throw out all the evil behavior in here. No point in keeping any of it.

One of the fun things about cleaning out my closet is that it leaves lots of room for new clothes. I’m wearing the white robe of righteousness, so I don’t’ need to hang it in the closet, but how about hanging the truth in there. It matches the good, helpful and encouraging things I can say. Oh, and giving generously is so pretty. Then I can finish my wardrobe with a matched set of kindness, tender-heartedness and forgiveness.

If I ever wonder what I should put on in the morning, I can always take a look at God and see what He’s wearing. I’ll follow His fashion trend instead of the world’s. 

I was created to be like God, so I’ll dress like Him, in righteousness and holiness and then He won’t grieve over me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A More Excellent Way

Life is hard for my grandson, Conor. He has some physical issues that at times frustrate the people who love him the most. He also has some emotional issues that make it hard for him to be the good little boy that everyone hopes for. But he’s also a loving and compassionate little boy and I love him to bits.

This week has been particularly hard for him, although on the surface he seems to be handling the stress from being in an accident and having Mommy in the hospital. But he’s been acting up more than usual. And I haven’t always responded with as much patience and compassion as I want to.

Last night while I was praying for Conor, I told the Lord I didn’t like my own response to his naughty behavior. I said, “There must be a more excellent way.” I don’t know why I used those words, but God immediately pointed out that I was using scripture (I Corinthians 12:31) and that He has shown me the most excellent way.

Conor is precious to me, and I love him immensely (did I already say that?). But now I’ve been reminded of some guidelines for expressing that love. I need to be patient and kind. I need to not be self-seeking (not now Conor, I’m busy) or easily angered (DO NOT DO THAT AGAIN) or keep a record of wrongs (why did you do it again?). But most of all I need to always protect Conor, always trust God, always hope for Conor’s healing, always persevere in my love.

When Eryn was in pre-school, we parents were told that each child has an IALAC. It’s an acronym for “I am loved and cherished.” We were cautioned never to damage our child’s ialac. Conor knows he’s loved and cherished. I want to contribute to that so it will remain with him for his whole life.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Right now, with Eryn unable to do much for herself, and my time filled with caring for her family instead of living the retired life I’ve come to enjoy, a post about freedom seems out of place. But I’m committed to hearing the message God has for me in the scriptures He brings to my attention. This scripture speaks to me about freedom.

God’s will is for me to obey His law. Within that law, I have the freedom to choose how I live. I’m free to serve Him, obey Him, love Him, and do the same for others.

I’m also free to live outside His law, but then I will sin and the consequences are not pretty.

David despised the word of the Lord when he sinned. He knew the commandments against adultery and murder, as well as coveting and bearing false witness. But when he decided to go after what he wanted, the sins piled up on top of each other. 

God’s word doesn’t just contain the laws of God, it tells us what is pleasing to Him. I don’t think anyone knew that better than David. You see his love for the law in the Psalms he wrote. I haven’t researched when he wrote which ones, so I don’t know if his love came before or after his great sin. But either way, at that time he despised it.

David had the freedom to choose to please God by following His law or to despise it and disobey it. But God expected obedience, and just because he was king didn’t mean he could ignore the One who put him on the throne.

My circumstances are different, now and in my past and future. But God has put me where I am and He expects me to obey Him. I have the same choice David had, and it doesn’t matter if I’m in control or feeling helpless. Either way, I can use my freedom to please God or despise Him.

I want to please God. I’m grateful for David’s example and pray it will help me to avoid despising God’s law. I’m also grateful for David’s comforting, encouraging and admonishing words in the Psalms.

Reverence for the Lord is pure,
      lasting forever.
   The laws of the Lord are true;
      each one is fair.
  They are more desirable than gold,
      even the finest gold.
   They are sweeter than honey,
      even honey dripping from the comb.
  They are a warning to your servant,
      a great reward for those who obey them.
Psalm 19:9-11