Tag: Journey

Journey – Luke 24

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:45-46

I was reading yesterday about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. I thought about how I would have loved to have been part of that conversation! Christ himself “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” explaining what the whole Scripture said about himself. When I open the Scriptures there is so much revealed, but so much still hidden. Over and over again I discover something new, some gem I have missed before.

And I can relate to the sentiment, “Were not our hearts burning with us while he…opened the Scriptures to us?” As I read Luke 24:45-46 I felt that flame once again ignited within me. What an amazing message! Repentance and forgiveness available to all through Jesus Christ! That is a message that should never cease to burn in our hearts and shine in our lives.

Journey 9-9-08

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want…he restores my soul.” Ps 23:1, 3a

“I have made you, you are my servant; O Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all you trees, For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.” Isaiah 44:21b-23 (think about your name in the place of Israel and Jacob – as one redeemed by God this truth is just as true about you!)

There have been several words repeating themselves in my journal and in my thoughts this last month.

Restore, Renew, Redeem and Return.

As I wait for my body to get over this sickness, to be restored to good health, I think about the Lord who restores my soul. He finds me in the middle of my weariness and weakness and prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies. He restores my soul.

As I look around at all the housework that has been set aside while I’ve been ill and cleaning patterns that need to be renewed, I think about how the Lord renews my mind and my relationship with Him. I am ever challenged with the truth of His word to confront lies and be renewed with truth. Even more, He sweeps away my sins and renews my relationship Him by the blood of Christ, shed for me.

As I think about days of doing little but coughing and sleeping I think of how the process of restoring good health to my body redeems time that seems like a waste. In the same way, Christ has redeemed all my life. All my past has been redeemed by his blood and I can learn from it. All my present days are times redeemed to let His glory shine through me. And my future, for all eternity I am His. He has redeemed me as His possession. Once I was a slave to sin. Now I am redeemed to be a bondservant, a friend and an heir of righteousness.

As I’ve been sick I’ve longed for a return to normal days and normal activities. I anticipate the moment when small actions won’t wear me out. When I am weak and I stumble, I am so thankful for the Lord’s open arms. I can always, even moment by moment, return to Him for He is always with me. I also anticipate His return, when He will renew all things, when He will redeem this world and restore a rule of holiness and righteousness.

Restore, Renew, Redeem and Return – Beautiful words of encouragement.

Exodus 2 and Journey from 8-21-08

Since I’ve been gone I’ve gotten behind on some of the blogs I check regularly.  This morning I read about Exodus 2 from 97secondswithGod.  It was a beautiful reminder to me, especially the quote at the bottom of what God might have said if He had spoken in that chapter.  Take a look here.


Thought’s on the Journey 

  And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
1 Kings 19:9b-11a

One of the deep truths of Scripture that challenges me is the principle of looking first, not for solutions or answers, but for the LORD Himself. In our lives, just as in God’s dealings with Job, we don’t see the whole picture. God didn’t tell Job about the interaction going on in the heavenly realms. God didn’t reveal that Job was “Exhibit A”, a testimony in a challenge against the worthiness of God to receive honor. When God interacted with Job He simply pointed to His presence, His essence.

As I read in 1 Kings last week I noticed that here, again, the LORD points to Himself. God’s initial reaction to Elijah is not the disclosure of His game plan for the enemies of God. Nor does God start with a rebuke for Elijah’s skewed perspective. God starts with Himself. “Go and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD.” The first thing God offered was the thing that Elijah needed; the presence of God. Only after Elijah has experienced the presence of the LORD does God reveal his plans for his enemies and confront the falsehood of Elijah’s belief that he is the only one left.

This is a principle that I must put into practice. Too often I want answers. I want to know the game plan and I am confused by my own false beliefs. Yet, what I really need is to quiet myself in the presence of God. If I look to His worthiness, His love, His character, His presence and focus on the LORD alone, then the other things will eventually fall in line. He will work out His plan whether I see the entire picture or not. And He will change me from the inside out confronting my false beliefs and replacing them with truth. If I rest in His presence and trust in His character, then He will work out my life to bring honor to His most worthy name.

Journey 7-11-08

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says:  On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. Then the nations around you will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate.  I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 36:33, 36

 

I once told one of my teammate that I thought her enjoyment of Brussels sprouts was abnormal.  It’s strange to me, but a joy to her.  Well, I’m abnormal too.  When I need encouragement, I tend to turn toward the Prophets.  Oh, I love the poetry of the Psalms and I resonate with the truths’ of the Epistles, but the thing that encourages me the most are the promises of the restoration found in the Prophets.  Though these books speak clearly of rebellion and its resulting death, destruction and judgment, these books also overflow with hope.  Over and over again, God sprinkles messages of restoration into the mess that sin has made.  Over and over again, the prophets speak of Messiah.  They proclaim personal restoration in Christ and worldwide, future restoration in the Kingdom.  These beautiful themes never cease to give me comfort and encouragement.  No matter how dark and lost and messed up the world appears, hope waits in the wings.

 

One of the best things about this hope is that does not depend upon us.  What a relieving truth.  God planned for us to be a part of bringing restoration to the world.  He desires for us to share the gospel and do the works He has prepared for us, but ultimately it is all about Him.  What a blessing that we are invited to be a part of His work!  What a relief to know that it doesn’t depend upon us.  He is the LORD and HE will do it. 

 

Not just once, but multiple times in Ezekiel we see this phrase used: “I the LORD have spoken and I will do it.”  

 

The cross was His work of restoration.  Drawing sinners to Himself is His work of restoration.  The Kingdom that is coming is His work of restoration.  He is the LORD and He will do it.  What beautiful, encouraging words.  We can depend on Him – He is working out redemption. 

Journey 6-27-08 (delayed posting)

(Sorry – I forgot to post this one after I e-mailed it between camp and VBS)

“My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.” Psalm 119:20

At first glance this isn’t a verse to inspire much response in me.  Consumed with longing for God’s laws?  I understand being consumed with longing for God’s presence, His mercy and compassion.  I long for His love and redemption, His glorious appearing, but His law is not usually high on the list of things that consumes me with longing. 

“Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.” Psalm 119:27

Verse twenty-seven challenged me to look a little deeper at verse twenty.  God’s teaching holds wonders if only I can understand it.  So what is it about the laws of God that should inspire me to be consumed with longing?  To start, what does consume me with longing?  The one thing that I long for above all else is the Kingdom of God, that day and time when Christ will reign and all things will be made new: no more sin, no more pain, no more broken relationships or distorted truth.  Love will be perfected and we will worship together with joy.  That inspires longing!  So how does that relate to the laws of God?  The laws of God are the foundation of that perfection.  The laws of God are about banishing sin, which is the cause of death and pain and broken relationships and distorted truth.  The laws of God are His righteousness, His Holiness, His gift to teach us how to live in such a way that will perfect love and create worship of the Giver of all good things.

If I am consumed with longing for the statutes of God, then I will put away sin. If I put away sin and allow the laws of God to consume my heart with longing for the day when we will all be made perfect in Holiness, then I will learn to love the way that God loves.  The laws of the Lord are not a dry rulebook that we follow out of duty, but a calling, a longing for love to be perfected in us, in the same way that it was perfected in Christ.

Journey 5-14-08

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Matt. 26:39

Jesus prayed a dangerous prayer: a prayer that cost him his life.  He prayed a prayer of surrender. 

Recently I heard a song with the lyrics: “Take me through the desert places for the chance to see your face.”  This stirred my heart with two very opposite thoughts.  The first was “Yes Lord!  I NEED to see you.” But the other thought, instantaneous with the first was “Do I have to go through the desert to see your face?”

The cry of my heart to surrender self and become like Christ, seeking God’s will above my own, is always at war with the weakness of my flesh.  Jesus expressed his preference for how things would turn out, but He still surrendered, even unto death. So even while I am praying that dangerous prayer, asking for God’s will above my own, I still struggle with keeping my will on the alter of surrender when things ahead appear difficult.

The sum of the matter is that God is on the other side of my surrender and He himself is more than enough of a reward.  So if the way I see Him clearer, if the way I know Him better, if the way I can enter fully into His joy is the way of the cross (the way of surrender) then that is that path that I choose to tread.  For the joy of knowing him is a joy beyond all else.  This is the paradox: The Way of the Cross is the Way of Joy.

Journey 5-9-08

 Speaking of the Messiah…“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” Isaiah 50:4

I love the book of Isaiah, the prophecies of Messiah, the promises of redemption and the Hope of the Kingdom which stand in such perfect contrast to the sin and rebellion and judgment due to mankind. This morning this verse caught my attention. “The word that sustains the weary,” isn’t that a beautiful phrase? The words of God, the words of redemption, the WORD made flesh; this is the hope that sustains me in struggles, in weariness and in the battle against the darkness of this fallen world that so often threatens to overwhelm my soul.

 This is the hope; the WORD made flesh. And this is the cry of my heart, Come Lord Jesus.

“My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.” Isaiah 51:5-6

 

Journey, update 4-30-08

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matt. 16:24

Christ told his disciples that they would have to take up their cross to follow Him.  What a hard thing: a call to come and die.  Yet, that is exactly what Jesus asks of us.  (Not the “work” of self-denial but the obedience of denying self: there is a difference.)  Is this easy?  NO!  The Christian life is hard.  Is it worth it?  YES!  You see, when we share in Christ’s death we also share in His resurrection. (Romans 6:5, Philippians 3:10-11)  We have an eternal hope. (Romans 5:5-10)  Further, the stuff you are dying too (the selfish, sinful nature) is the stuff that weighs you down.  It might be hard to take up the cross, to let go and surrender all to Christ, but on the other side of that death is a freedom that is like nothing else.  So today, I’m thanking God for that freedom, as well as, the mercy, grace and abundant love that are found on the other side of the cross.

Prayer Request Update:

When my car died in March I asked you to pray for a miracle. God has answered and provided another car for me to purchase. 

Missionaries who are leaving the country in July are selling me their car for a great price.  This car has fairly low mileage, has only had one owner and is one of the most dependable brands you can buy.  (It is a Skoda, made by Volkswagen).  I am really amazed how God is working out the details.  I received a loan to pay for the car.  I will be able to sell my current car, once it is repaired, providing a significant amount toward the purchase.  I will also need to raise support to cover the difference.*  This was a clear and amazing answer to my prayer about needing wisdom on whether to buy something with lower miles.  I couldn’t imagine being able to afford something with lower miles and God brought along an amazing deal.  He is so good.

* Leave a note in the comments if you would like info on how to donate toward the car purchase.

Journey 4/15/08

This week I’ve been thinking about a lot of things and have posted a couple of entires about those thoughts, so in my Journey I just wanted to share a quote that I found to be impacting.

“To evangelize a person is to say to him or her: you, too, are loved by God in the Lord Jesus. And not only to say it but to really think it and relate it to the man or woman so they can sense it. This is what it means to announce the Good News. But that becomes possible only by offering the person your friendship; a friendship that is real, unselfish, without condescension, full of confidence and profound esteem.”
Brennan Manning

Journey 10-31-07

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:5

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. John 3:17-21

This time of year the sun starts setting earlier, the days here in Hungary turn gray and gloomy and I start thinking about the many effects and impacts of light. Today is not just physically gloomy but spiritually also as there is a worldwide celebration of darkness. In my childhood I could celebrate this holiday with innocence. It was all about dressing up, having fun, attending costume parties where I got to be a princess, giggle with friends and eat candy. But that innocence is long gone. As I have grown from childish innocence to adulthood I have seen the battle between darkness and light with new eyes. Now, every day I get up and prepare to become a tool that is used by God in the battle to draw men’s souls to the light.

God gave me an image earlier this week, a vision of His light. In it there was a canvas of the universe, black as the darkest night with not a trace of light shading the edges. Then there was a light, bright and pure and holy. It was so beautiful, full of hope, the type of beauty that brings tears to the eyes. And suddenly from that light streamed tight beams of pure light down onto a black planet far below. And the light lit up one pinpoint and then another and then a thousand more. These little receptacles functioned like reflecting mirrors so that the light was channeled and amplified into the darkness igniting other pinpoints of light. Thousands of little lights, reflecting the glory of God into the darkness: that vision hasn’t left my mind all week.

This image, this vision, exemplifies how we as children of light are those mirrors, those channels of God’s light into the darkness. We come into the light and testify to how God has turned our darkness into light and given us a hope and a future. Pray with me that God’s light will shine on men’s souls and that His Spirit will move so that they will understand that He desires to forgive and remove their condemnation. Pray that we would be vessels of God’s light and that it would shine brightly within this dark and desperate world.