Monday, August 24, 2009

Barren, Dying and Desolate

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
A sun-scorched land is the way the Lord describes Israel during Isaiah's lifetime. A land that was barren, dying and desolate.
I got to thinking about the term, a sun-scorched land, as it applies to my personal life. When my life fails to bring any real life sustaining water to those around me, it becomes a land that soaks the life out of others.
My life becomes a sun-scorched land when my anger gets in the way of nurturing my girls. When the pressures of keeping up with those around me becomes my priority. When I expect my husband to meet all my emotional needs. When I start chasing after the temporal instead of the eternal. When I fill my time with the pleasures of this world. When my life is about others sacrificing for me instead of me sacrificing for others. When I start to think that this life is all about me. It is at these times that my life becomes a sun-scorched land. A land were the word doesn't overflow from the recesses of my heart. A land that will die if not watered.
Reflection can lead to repentance and change. Reflection puts my life into perspective. It forces my focus to shift from me and unto Him. What is my desire? My desire is to be a woman who walks the road of redemption and doesn't turn around to chase after the former things. A woman that remembers the road she used to frequent and treasures the Lord's redeeming grace. A woman who longs to be comforted by her Savior when the past lures her to turn aside grace and wallow in self pity. A woman who isn't tempted to turn down the road of regret. A woman who walks to bring glory to the Lord alone. A woman who sacrifices her desires and walks the road of bringing life sustaining water to those the Lord puts in her path.
"The Lord will guide me always when I loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free. When I share my food with the hungry. When I cloth the naked and do not turn away my flesh and blood. Then my light will break forth like the dawn and my healing will quickly appear; then my righteousness will go before me and the glory of the LORD will be my rear guard. "If I do away with the yoke of oppression with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if I spend myself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then my light will rise in the darkness, and my night will be like the noonday. The LORD will guide me always; he will satisfy my needs in this sun-scorched land." Isaiah 58:6,8,11

Picture above taken in my garden

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Water Bearers in a Sun Scorched Land

The one thing that stands out to me when studying the life of Jesus is the fact that people loved to be around Him. His disciples left everything to follow Him. Crowds gathered to hear him speak. The truth He spoke gave them hope and life.
In the Gospel of Luke it is documented that the Pharisees and teachers of the law complained to the disciples that Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors.
Jesus' response to this complaint,"It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31,32
What we see from the Gospels is that the religious leaders of Jesus' day hated Him because he confronted their hypocrisy. He cared for the the hopeless and healed the sick. He proclaimed freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind. He released the oppressed and brought hope to the hopeless. In fact earlier in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus when speaking at the synagogue in Nazareth quoted Isaiah 61:1 to the people of His hometown. "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD." Luke 4:18,19
We too have this calling. We are called to go to those who are sick and hurting. We are called to bring the good news to the poor. I think often times we get so caught up in church that we neglect our calling to go out into the world and meet the needs of the hurting. To serve and bring hope to the hopeless. To go into this hurting world and be the hands and feet of Christ. You see Christ went to them. He healed them, He had compassion on them. People who were hurting followed Him because He cared enough to go. He cared enough to come down to reveal to us the Truth and most importantly to die and be raised again as our final atoning sacrifice. He not only healed them physically but He made them alive spiritually. He addressed their heart issues and spoke truth into the moments of their greatest desperation.
I want to take a moment to address the Samaritan woman at the well because it is the perfect illustration when observing how Jesus spoke the truth in love. Her story is documented in John 4.
Jesus was waiting for the samaritan woman at the well and when she came He offered her living water. After offering her the living water He goes on to say, "but first go and bring back your husband." Jesus knowing that she didn't have a husband asked her to bring him back to the well knowing that this confrontation would expose her sin and depravity and reveal to her His divinity.
He also takes a moment to reveal to her the heart of the Father, "for such a time is coming and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in sprit and truth." Jesus goes on to reveal His Divinity as Messiah in verse 26 by stating plainly that He is the Messiah to the one whom He just exposed. His words penetrated the dark depths of her pain shining His glorious light into the dark places of shame and sin marking her as a chosen recipiant of His undeserved grace. "I who speak to you am He."John 4:23,24,26.
You see, Jesus wanted to expose her pain not because he wanted to hurt her but because he wanted to free her from it. Exposing her sin and desperation in hopes to free her from her bondage and to reveal to her His divinity. Jesus knowing that to receive "living water" we must repent to be set free from the bondage of sin. Let's look at the conversation with this in mind. SW: "I have no husband". JC: "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true." John 4:17,18 Can you feel the long pause... You see, Jesus got right to the heart of the issue. He states plainly the sin but not to make her feel guilty. After all, He was there waiting for her. He exposes the sin out of His desire to heal her pain and set her free from her past.
He pursued her. It was out of His great compassion that He exposed her sin and shame.
He does the same for us, He waits for us. He brings us to moments where we see our pain and our sin for the sole purpose of exposing the lies we have believed. He does this to give us the opportunity to repent and to be set free.
Who is the Lord calling you to minister to today? Is there someone in your life that is embracing a lifestyle that leads to destruction? Could it be that He wants you to love this person and to see them through His eyes.
To speak the truth in love and release the chains of bondage and destruction. Behind every addiction is an enemy that seeks to destroy. An enemy who loves death. Are we willing to expose the lies and reveal to those God puts in our path the truth. The only truth that is powerful enough to set them free. The truth of salvation. The truth of real life sustaining living water. Jesus is powerful enough to break the chains of bondage. He is powerful enough to shine light into the darkest places of humanity. Are we willing to risk rejection and our personal comfort to bring the saving knowledge of Jesus to those He puts in our path? Our time here is short. What we do with the time He has given us is eternal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yeshua

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust." - Psalm 91:1-2

To dwell is to abide in, to find rest in, to depend upon. A dwelling is also a place. A place where we can find rest in a world that is not our own. It can be a place where we retreat to when weary or afraid. After all, we are strangers and aliens in a foreign land.
Have you felt like one lately? That this world just isn't what it's supposed to be? If you have then this promise is for you. If you dwell in Him; you will find rest. He will be your refuge and your stronghold. He will be your strong tower and mighty deliver. To dwell in and on the promises of the One who is called "Faithful and True." He will restore your strength. He will equip you for your divine calling.
Verse 9, If you make the most high your dwelling-even the LORD, who is my refuge-no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
To dwell in and on the promises of God. To abide in and trust in His truths. To find rest in a place that is our temporary dwelling. To rest in moments of chaos and confusion.
To trust is to know for certain that my Lord will not tarry forever and will come back to get me when the curtain closes this side of eternity. To trust completely in things not seen.
Jesus came the first time to dwell among us to reveal to us the truth. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John:1:14. He came down from His heavenly throne to live in our world under the same limitations that you and I live in. He suffered death, so that by the grace of God, he might taste death for everyone. 
Paul tells us in Hebrews, "that it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of our salvation perfect through suffering. " Hebrews 2:9,11.
Fitting for God to make US perfect through HIS suffering. Our salvation through His suffering. Our salvation when we trust in his provision and sacrifice. 
Lord, may I never take your suffering for granted. You died once and for all for the sins of all those who call on your name. Your name is a strong and mighty tower. Your name is a dwelling. Yeshua.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sudden Fear?

More insight on the Greek word, tarasso as it relates to John 14:1. Let's take one more look at John 14:1, Do not let your hearts be troubled (tarasso). Trust in God, trust also in Me. 

I want to give you a little context into this verse. Jesus is speaking to His disciples about not fearing their eternal destination. He is telling them that He will come back for them and take them to be with Him where He is. He is telling them not to fear the unseen. Not to fear death. They are to trust in His promises and to remember His lineage.  

Again, tarasso, is the Greek word for trouble, which means to agitate, to cause one inward commotion; to take away one’s calmness of mind. It goes on to use words like to disquiet, to strike with fear and dread; to suggest scruples and doubts.

What we learn from this verse is that Fear is a heart issue. You and I both know that it is much easier for us to change our behavior than it is for us to change our heart. Heart issues are something we cannot combat on our own. We must have the help of the Holy Spirit. And yet when we look at the word for trouble in the Greek, the word Tarasso, it implies that Jesus is also referring to the mind.  Notice, Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. He didn’t say do not let your minds be troubled. He said our hearts not our minds. Jesus didn't make the mistake of using the Greek word tarasso when speaking to his disciples. So why did He use a word that seems to appeal to the mind? I believe He did this because Jesus knows that to deal with the mind we must look at the heart. He knows that our heart is the wellspring of life.

Are you experiencing sudden fear today? Are you experiencing doubts and confusion. Are you agitated? Is there something that is causing you to become disquiet? 

Are you listening to the lies of the world and not the truth of God's word? Ask God to reveal to you what He desires to change within your heart. Ask Him to shine His light of truth into the dark recesses of your heart. His Truth has the power to set you free. Fear is an indication of a deeper heart issue a heart issue that God desires to deal with and set you free from. 

Trust in Him and do not allow your heart to be troubled. It is an act of the will to stand firm on the promises of God even when you are facing the strong winds of oppression. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

The picture above was taken in the Nanahala National Forest