Thursday, February 2, 2012

Names of God Study: Jehovah-shalom

It's time for another post in the Names of God series. We have done a little study on the names Elohim, El Elyon, El Roi, El ShaddaiEl OlamAdoniaJehovahJehovah-jirehJehovah-raphaJehovah-nissi, and Jehovah-mekoddishkem. Today we will learn more about our God from His name, Jehovah-shalom. 

We discover this name of God in Judges chapter six. When we look at the context of this chapter of Scripture we discover that this is a time of great turmoil in the life of Israel. It is after the death of their leader Joshua, the one who brought them into the promised land. It is a time when the children of Israel have decided to do what seems best in their own eyes instead of obeying the God who brought them out of Egypt.

In this chapter we are introduced to Gideon. We find him hiding in the wine press threshing wheat. While he hides, God decides to surprise him. The angel of the LORD pops in and declares that this hiding man is a valiant warrior... yes Gideon is shocked. After a time of exchanges and encouragements Gideon asks the angel of the LORD to hang around for an offering which he complies. When Gideon witnesses how the angel of the LORD consumes the offering, he realizes who he has been talking to...

When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD,
he said, “Alas, O Lord GOD!
For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” 
The LORD said to him,
“Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” 
Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD
and named it The LORD is Peace.
Judges 6:22-24

He named it Jehovah-shalom.
The LORD is Peace.
There is only one way to receive peace... and that is from God.

Yes, we try in many other ways to get it...

We can light all the candles we want. We can try to find a place of solitude and quiet and shut out our inner thoughts and outer noise... but we will not find real peace here. We cannot self-will ourselves into peace.

When we try to self-will ourselves into peace or try to control our circumstances in order to get peace we usually end up like Po here... banging our heads up against the wall in sheer frustration. We may get the peace for a moment, but the second our circumstances change or an interruption occurs that peace is gone.

Lasting peace comes only from God.

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
 The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Lasting peace comes from knowing that we are right with God. It comes from knowing that it is God who keeps us and sustains us regardless of our circumstances or life's interruptions. Lasting peace comes through faith. It comes from God and through God.

Therefore, having been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:1

When trials and tribulations come we have to remember that peace is not found in a place. It does not come through a system. It is found in a person.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
John 14:27

These things I have spoken to you,
so that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation,
but take courage;
I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

 When our peace comes from God then we have it regardless of our circumstances. Our circumstances may be crazy. Gideon was hiding in the wine press because his nation was in turmoil. He was surrounded by enemies and lived in fear... because he had forgotten who his God was. He had forgotten the promises of his God. He had forgotten the mighty works of his God. He thought the problem was his outer circumstances, but the problem was really in him.

Oh precious one, if you have Christ, then you have peace. Your innards are already full of peace. Christ in you the hope of glory! The Prince of Peace lives in you, never to leave you, never to forsake you. You just have to walk in it. You just have to get this thing going :-)
The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.
Isaiah 26:3-4
If we will keep our minds focused on the promises of God, trusting in His Word, walking by faith and not by sight, our God will keep us in perfect peace. When troubles come if we will remember...
'For I know the plans that I have for you,’
declares the LORD,
‘plans for welfare and not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope'
 Jeremiah 29:11
Oh precious one, do you need peace?
First ask yourself "Have I got Jesus?"
If you have Him, then you have peace.
Next walk in Him, think on Him, rest in Him and His Word.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute,
if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,
dwell on these things. 
The things you have learned
and received and heard and seen in me,
practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9
Don't focus on the problem, focus on the promise.
Remember Jehovah-shalom.
The LORD is Peace. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Dance

Lost in thought, lost in His eyes,
Dreaming of the day I'll throw off this disguise
Watching the clouds drift slowly by
Listening and watching for my Knight to arrive
Drifting away from the weight of this world
Eagerly anticipating my freedom unfurled

Oh to dance with my arms open wide
Singing and shouting to the Love of my life

To twirl and to trust as a child understands
To walk in a faith that is able to move mountains
To swim in a sea of forgiveness freely gave
To be firmly established upon the Rock that never caves
Throw off all inhibitions, all chains destroyed
No cords encompassed, no locks on the door
Cast all cares away, all fears to the depths
No burdens bore, no worries felt

Oh this world how captivating it is
The serpent's a charmer he does persist
Forsake he says, forsake your first love
Forget His voice, ignore His shove
No need to give all, what you've gave is enough
Your His, you are, no need to fanatically rush
Stay a while enjoy this place, after all life is short
No need for these pleasures for you to abort
Isn't God good, doesn't He want happiness
Then come says the serpent, with me dance
I'll twirl you and spin you and give you a high
Keep your eyes on my world for soon enough you will die
Come fill your plate with the things of this world
Don't you know when you go these will be no more
No regrets I promise after all would I lie

Would he lie?
Would he lie?
I ask you twice.

Forsake? No! Forsake my first love ?
My Savior, my Life, draw me unto You from above.
Fill me anew, afresh from Your heart
Pour down Your Spirit, Your truth do impart
Flood my mind and my soul with Your joy abound
Make me drunk with Your passion, I am Your renown

I shall shout I shall sing I shall declare Your praise
Lift high, lift high, Thy banner I raise
I run this race, I shall run till the end
For Jesus, my Lord, has also callen me friend

I love You I do, I love You so
My Jesus teach me, into Your image might me You mold
Into your hands I fall, into your arms I rest
Encompass me Father, let me inhale Your breath
Fill my lungs with Your life, my mouth with Your song
Oh my Father, it is here, in You that forever I belong

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thirty-three Day Challenge

I am up for a challenge... I would like you to join me in this challenge.
I am a Christian.
I am still proud to carry this name no matter what the world has done to try to discredit it.
I carry it with honor.
I do not carry it lightly.

As a Christian I have read the end of the book.
I know that this world is only going to get worse.
I am not here to save the world.
I am here to be used by God to save those who are His out of the world.
This challenge is for those that are His.

I don't know about you, but I am tired of the church not looking any different than the world. I am tired of cults that profess the name of Christ being lumped in with the true Church. I am tired of the lost not being able to find the way of peace because the highway of holiness is so crowded and blocked with briars and thorns and fruitcakes that they can't get through to see the real Christ. I am ready to be the tree of life that Zacchaeus was able to climb to get over the crowd in order to see Jesus.

I have just finished reading What Are You Waiting For by Dannah Gresh and am now in the middle of Every Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge. Both of these books mentioned this challenge.

Then I saw this:

After reading these books and seeing this video and knowing my own experiences and weighing it against about what I know of the Word of God, I can't help but feel my heart break from the marriages that I am sure have fallen apart simply because that serpent of old snuck his way in and wreaked havoc. I hurt as I think of how many marriages have not even been because the girl couldn't see God's man for the fog of Twilight and the fluff of the fairytales. To many of us are too weak and too desensitized to Satan's presence to even know when to fight him, much less how.

It's time for the Church to get busy about the Father's business.
It's time for the bride to make herself ready for the Bridegroom.

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness;
but indeed you are bearing with me. 
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy;
for I betrothed you to one husband,
so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 
But I am afraid that,
as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness,
your minds will be led astray
from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:1-3

Today I ask that you bear with me in a little foolishness... because I too am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I want you to be presented to your Bridegroom as a pure virgin... standing unashamed before Him because you made yourself ready for Him. If your Groom were to come today would you drop your head in shame or would your head be lifted up ready to be received by Him? 

I am afraid that many of us have indeed been deceived by the serpent... Adam and Eve alike. We have no doubt been led astray from them the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

So if you will bear with me in my foolishness to believe that the Word of God is true and relevant in our day and powerful beyond measure... if you will bear with me in my foolishness to believe that their is still believers in the world today who desire to carry the name of Christ with honor and truly desire to live a sanctified life proclaiming His excellencies... then take this challenge with me.

The challenge:
For thirty-three days.
One day for every year that Christ gave us give to Him.
For thirty-three days we shall live to Him and not ourselves in a purposeful way. For thirty-three days let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh.

Therefore, having these promises,
beloved, let us cleanse ourselves
from all defilement of flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

Beginning February 14th, the secular day of "love" let us begin to live true, real, Biblical, Christ love.
The challenge will end on March 17th, St Patrick's Day, the day given in remembrance to the man who is believed to have ran all the snakes out of Ireland.
Let us, in this thirty-three day challenge run that serpent of old out of our minds, out of our home, out of our church by loving the LORD our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength.

How do we do this?
On February 14th put out the trash.
Turn off the television programs that feed your flesh, your lusts, your pride, and yes, your depression. If you wouldn't watch it sitting next to your Mom or your Pastor or kids Sunday School class turn it off. If it places a burden of dissatisfaction in you and makes you see yourself or your spouse in a negative way, turn it off. 
Do the same with what you read, and the music you listen to, and with the conversations going on around you at work, at school, on facebook and twitter, or even in your home with your family.
Take that time and instead study God's Word. Listen to God's Word. Read God's Word. 

Thirty-three days is all I am asking for. 
I will do the challenge with you.
Each day I will share a Scripture to meditate on.
I will share with you excerpts from the books above and together we will work to become women of integrity.

A woman of integrity lives a life that lines up with her Christian beliefs. She lives according to the standard of love rather than the law. She does not claim to be a follower of Christ yet disregard His many teachings on sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, immodest dress, and inappropriate talk. A woman of integrity lives what she believes about God, and it shows everywhere from the boardroom to the bedroom.  ~ Shannon Ethridge

This is not a flippant challenge I am asking you to join.
It is a challenge that could save your marriage if it is struggling.
It is a challenge that can lift you up out of the pit of defeat.
It is a challenge that can give you the strength to say no to what before you caved in to.
It is a challenge that can free you from your past and prepare you for your future.
It is a challenge that can open your eyes to the invisible chains that have been entangling you. 
It is a challenge that you are not to do alone. Pray for a fellow sister in Christ to openly take it with you, not someone you pushed into it, but someone who is serious about it, God will send her.
Don't try to force your spouse to join you, but explain to them what you are doing, and how serious it is, they will need to know because I have no doubt that there will be changes you will have to make to meet this challenge.

It is a challenge that I want you to pray about before you commit to it.
That's why it doesn't begin until Feb 14th.
Pray and if the Lord wills... join me.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come
and His bride has made herself ready.
Revelation 19:7

Thine Ass Is Mine

The title of this post is a quote from Imaginary Jesus. It's a pretty good book... I have shared about it before and well as I taught my Zoology class today this quote came to my mind.
The quote came from King-James Jesus after he kidnapped the talking donkey in order to bargain for her to rescue Magic-Eight-Ball Jesus.

Today our lesson in Zoology was on Ungulates and as we looked at the order Perissodactyla we discussed the donkey. As I prepared to teach I read:

Although donkeys have long been considered ignorant, they are actually quite intelligent creatures. They are not as easy to train as horses, because they seem to have a mind of their own and will not do anything that doesn't seem like a good idea to them. They prefer to do things that are good for the donkey, which may not necessarily be good for the person who owns the donkey.
~ Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 3

Well reading this took me to remembering that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. I have been taught and have understood that Jesus chose a donkey because it was poor man's animal. It was not a king's steed. It also was to fulfill the Scriptures. I believe all this is true... but I also now think that their might even have been more to the story.

 “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
Matthew 21:2-5

Why the donkey?
Well if you think about it... we as humans can be stupid as a sheep and stubborn as a donkey. Not only was this a donkey, but it was a colt. It was immature, unridden, untrained...
I read this and I think of the description of this donkey and I realize how often I have been there. You know having a mind of my own and not willing to listen to instruction and not planning on doing anything that didn't seem like a good idea to me...

I mean really, like anyone else might have good idea?

How often do we see this in our church and in our homes?

No, sir, we need to go in this direction and your opinion of the matter is really irrelevant because it's not what I personally had planned... so there is no point in even entertaining it...

No, honey, this is the way we need to do it and your idea on the matter doesn't line up with mine and there is no way that your way could be better than mine... so just hush about it...

The donkey is always looking out for the donkey and he is not all that fired up or concerned about how it affects everyone else... including the one who owns him.
Hmmmmm am I hitting home yet?

The last time I checked my body, my mind, my soul, belong to God... not me. When I accepted Christ and believed on Him and confessed Him as my Lord, I surrendered all that I am and ever will be to Him. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple
of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God,
and that you are not your own? 
For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

In light of this when was the last time you considered what was best for God, your owner. I have to admit that usually when I plan out my day, my future, when I get ideas... the majority of the time the focus is what is best for me. I consider what will work best in my schedule and with the way that I want it to go... then I ask God to make it to happen.

How quickly I forget "Thine ass is Mine"

My life is not my own and it is not to be used for my glory or my benefit. Just as that donkey in the book of Matthew carried Jesus into Jerusalem, I am to be the carrier of Jesus the Christ into my Jerusalem and Jesus is to lead and direct the way. 

Likewise, in my home, my marriage, I am no longer my own.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother,
and be joined to his wife;
and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

The wife does not have authority over her own body,
but the husband does;
and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body,
but the wife does.
1 Corinthians 7:4

In this marriage I am not to live to  myself. My ideas, my decisions, should not be based on what's best for me, but what is best for my spouse and our marriage and our family. It's not about me. I belong now to this marriage and to this family, to my husband... I am not my own and I must make decisions according to what is best for them... not me.

Of course here's the thing, I can't do this on my own. I need Jesus there to control the reigns. As I carry the coverings of others on my back He must be the one who covers all of us... I can't do it on my own.
I am immature, untrained, and unridden. My ideas, my way, may not be the best for others... usually they are not. 
I am ingrained to resist authority and to seek my own personal wants and needs first in a self-protection kind of way. I have to have Christ leading me, growing me, steering me, indwelling me. When I surrender my will to Him, He will help me surrender my will in the other areas of my life as well. 

  And He went a little beyond them,
and fell on His face and prayed, saying,
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;
yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Matthew 26:39

Living our lives with surrendered will does not mean that life will be a bed of roses for us... but it's not about us. It's about Him.
We have to trust that He knows what He is doing, where He is going, and He will see us safely there and through whatever comes our way. We must know that what lies ahead is going to be far greater than anything that lies behind.
I want this stubborn donkey of me to be broken, matured, and trained by my Owner, by the One who first surrendered all for me...
I want to be fully surrendered to Him.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Human Heart Experiment

Science teaches us many things through experiments, and through these experiments we come to logical conclusions, and most of the time we call these logical conclusions proven facts. When we conduct an experiment we form a test group and from this test group we pronounce a verdict on the whole.
Hmmmm I wonder where man developed this concept?

In the beginning God created man in the image of Himself, male and female He created them in the image of God. Man and woman were in intimate fellowship with their Creator, yet they were deceived by the great deceiver and they believed the lie and denied the truth and sin entered the world and their hearts.

Since this moment the world that was once good has become not so good, and man in the garden tried to blame God for his choice then and still today man tries to blame God for his choices and for the choices of others and for the receiving of the consequences of these choices.

We see all through the Scriptures how man has tried to prove his own goodness by comparing himself to others he deemed not as good as himself. All through the Scriptures we see man blaming God for his choices and blaming God for the consequences of a fallen world. All through the Scriptures we see man trying to make his own way to a god he created because he could make the rules. All through the Scriptures we see man arguing with God out of foolish ignorance of the magnitude of His holiness. All through the world, in the media, on t.v., on the Internet, we see man is still doing the same thing today.

So how does God respond?
I believe God responded with the “Human Heart Experiment.”

God repeatedly has reached out to man and He has not stopped and He won’t until the day of the white throne judgment (Daniel 7:9-10, Rev 20:11-15). Man for some reason just does not want to admit that they need God. Man wants to think that he is not so bad and is doing just fine. He just needs a break, needs society to adapt to him, needs better circumstances; he’s merely a product of his environment and his upbringing. No not at all, he is merely a product of his heart, and he needs God, not a god, but the GOD, and God conducts His experiment to prove it, not to Himself, He knows our hearts, but to prove it to us.

Many years ago a man named Abram was born in the Middle East in a city called Ur. This ordinary man God called out, and said go with Me, listen to Me, I will make you a great nation, give you a land, and in you all the nations will be blessed. This man listened.

God kept His word as He always does, and Abram became Abraham, and he had a son Isaac, who had a son Jacob, who had twelve sons who became the nation of Israel (the accounts of their lives are recorded in the book of Genesis). Israel would be God’s test group in the “Human Heart Experiment.”

We know that Jacob and his twelve sons moved to Egypt during a famine, and there they eventually ended up an enslaved people, yet even in their slavery God blessed them and they grew in number and became a nation. (This was all foretold to Abraham and passed down from father to son as we can tell from the words of Joseph at his death recorded in Genesis 50.)

God brings this nation out of slavery led by a man named Moses. In Exodus 12 God institutes His test group, as He says this month shall be the beginning of months for you, God delivers the nation of Israel out of slavery redeeming them with a great and mighty outstretched arm. He does all the work for them, cares for them , feeds them, and the whole time they are complaining, God has delivered them out of slavery, given them food money and clothing and shelter and yet they still aren’t happy, He still isn’t doing enough to satisfy them (does this sound familiar?).

It took the nation three months to get to Sinai, once there God made the people, the nation of Israel, a proposition. He told them that if they would obey His voice and keep His commandments He would bless them like crazy but if they turned away from Him and broke their promise He would curse them.

God delivered to them His standard of righteousness, the Law, the nation heard the commandments and agreed with God that they were good (because they merely were the written moral law that already was within them) and God gave them the ceremonial Law, which showed them how to approach Him, their holy God. The nation entered into covenant with God, they shook hands and sprinkled blood and said “it’s a deal”.

The test group formed, the standard presented, the variable in place, now what would be the result? We see the result from Exodus 32 through the Prophets, the variable could never meet the standard. No matter how hard they tried, no matter how many chances they had, no matter how many times they went over the rules, they couldn’t do it. Here’s the thing, God knew they couldn’t do it, but they, we, have to realize it ourselves.

Throughout the Scriptures God describes the nations as waters, so we shall do here. Let’s picture the world as a well of water, and we want to check the purity of that water, how do we do it? We take a sample of that water and we test it, and if in that one sample we discover pollutants and disease we declare the entire well polluted and unfit.

God took a sample for the purity of the human heart through the hearts of the nation of Israel, and He tested that sample. He gave them amazing advantage through the revealing of Himself in signs and wonders and His written word, but still the hearts of the people remained polluted. God already knows all human hearts are polluted (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9). He has so proven it to us through the Law and the nation of Israel and if we are honest we know that He has proven it within our own hearts.

Now we know that whatever the Law says,
it speaks to those who are under the Law,
so that every mouth may be closed
and all the world may become accountable to God;
because by the works of the Law
no flesh will be justified in His sight;
for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:19-20

One of the reasons God gave us the Law was to erase any questions and all excuses. Those who do not have the written Law, yet try to walk by the moral law within them, show the others around them their own sin thus the reason we constantly try and find someone who is worse than us or either we gather all those around us who are most like us with our same sin to somehow make our sin not so bad in our own eyes.

People respond to the knowledge of their sin in several ways, they try to hide it, deny it, justify it, fix it, or seek to destroy the who or what that brought attention to it.

Makes sense now why the nations have always hated the Jew, why the people fight to have the Ten Commandments yanked down from public display, if we destroy the test sample, if we ignore the standard, then we can pretend as though we are just fine. Sorry it doesn't work that way, whether a sample of the well water was taken or not doesn't change the pollutants and disease that is there, it just keeps killing the people who in ignorance drink the water.