Standing on God's Promises

He Gives Me Directions

“And Joshua fell on his face…and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?'” ~Joshua 5:14, NASB

We discussed the falling of Jericho yesterday, and with it, the purpose for the nation of Israel. They were a people of God’s choosing, a people set apart for His purpose. His glory. His revelation.

They were to show who the true God is to the world. And God worked in and through them to reveal himself. Pretty well, too, despite the Israelites many, many flaws. Consider Rahab, her response to the Hebrew spies…

“…our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:11)

She had heard about the Red Sea. About the wilderness, and the mighty kings the nomadic wanderers had taken out. No doubt she’d heard about the crossing of the flooded Jordan river…and now these people, whose God was clearly THE God, were coming.

Notice what she didn’t hear about…How amazing the leadership was among Israel. The awe-inspiring orator who captivated his audience. The unbelievably gifted song leader who could raise a frenzy of praise with his charismatic performances…Sometimes showing who God is to the world around me is as simple as walking. Am I willing to obey-

She heard about God. HIS power. HIS doing. HIS redemption of his people. Were there amazing leaders, great writers/speakers, gifted musicians? Yep. Among many other extraordinary people, there were such in Israel. Gifted and called by God himself. But Rahab’s faith didn’t sprout from them. She planted herself into the conviction that God was sovereign over all–people, nature, nations. All.

So, what does that have to do with the felling of Jericho? Well, we know Rahab was saved from that destruction. We also know that her legacy wasn’t restricted to her soiled past. Boaz, her son, was quite a good man, you know. And God saw fit to include Rahab in Jesus’s genealogy.

Anything else?

Well, we circled around to this question: “How do we, like the Israelites, show who God is to a godless or idolatress world?”

Perhaps the answer is found in this part of the story.

“I have given Jericho into your hand…. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days…then on the seventh day march seven times, and the priest shall blow the trumpets…and all the people shall shout…”

What? Not only is that a very strange string of directions, it’s actually quite terrifying. March around the fortified city walls? That is a completely vulnerable position. And seven times? Not only is it vulnerable, it has now become predictable. A recipe for slaughter.

Here, maybe, is the key. Obedience. God said march. Just walk. No shooting. No secret attack. Nothing fancy, cunning, or brilliant. A simple walk around the wall–easy directions that are leg-shakingly difficult to complete. But the obedience is visible, so when Rahab and her family ask “why did you do that?” the people would say, “because God said to.” So when the nations around heard about the walls coming down, the only bit of strategy that they could gain from studying that victory is, “they obeyed God.”

Sometimes showing who God is to the world around me is as simple as walking. Am I willing to obey?

Standing on God's Promises

Standing On His Promises: Ever Loved

“As the father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love….no one has greater love than this; that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:9, 13, HCSB

plucking-daisies-e1283285754687

I am the girl in the meadow, plucking the daisy. He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not…

Where will the petals run out? Will I believe the testimony of a flower? How can I determine His love?

See, my life isn’t going the way I had hoped. I wanted something….desperately. It was a good thing, a pure hope and honest ambition. Life is dousing that spark, and the waves of disappointment make me feel unloved.

“Don’t you love me?” I cry.

His gaze settles unwavering on me, but I hear nothing.

“I don’t feel your love.” I weep again.

Still, that soft look holds steady, but His voice does not fall on my ears.

I’m exasperated now, and in frustration I spit, “Why won’t you speak! How can I know that you love me?”

He smiles, the sad sort of smile, like I’ve injured His heart. His soft voice drifts across my anger. “Beloved, I have shown you.”

“But I want to hear the words.”

“I’ve shown you.” He stretches His hands forward, beckoning me to His arms.

I see the evidence, the scars in His hands, my name engraved there. I look back to his face and there is love in His glistening eyes. I know now, I remember. How foolish of me to seek truth in the passing moments of life. Flowers stretch forth from their stems, bloom, and then die all in a matter of months…why would I discern His love from their fading petals?

“Do you believe me?” He asks.

I crash into His arms. “Yes,” my tears fall, this time without anger, “I believe that you love me.”

I am Made New

Live New

grassAs a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1, NIV

It’s one thing to say I’m new. It’s quite another to live it.

Kind of like love. I love you doesn’t mean much without proof to back it up. And the proof is in the life that says it.

So, living new—what does that mean?

Living new rejoices with those who celebrate—even if what they’re celebrating is exactly what you had wanted and didn’t get.

Living new goes into the score of grief with one caught in its trenches, even if it means your heart is going to break.

Living new returns grace for insult, even if a snappy comeback sits ready on the tip of your tongue.

Living new does not keep an account of debt against those who have behaved badly.

Living new means living like Jesus. It is his calling I have received. His standard has become my aim. Ultimately, my life is in His hands—because I gave it to Him. I pray this new life of my will point to His.

I am Made New

I Am Made New: A Joint Post

bluebonnets“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:25-26, NASB

From Jen:

Ahh, April. Who doesn’t like April? Daffodils, tulips, pansies, and green grass. New life.

I just seeded a patch of mud with rye grass—fodder from my chicks who will soon be released to their new home. I like rye seeds. They’re big, plump droplets of hidden life. Their pale color stands out against the mud, so I can spot them readily. And yes, I check them. Daily. Because, here’s a confession about me—I am obsessed with growing things. I’m the type that talks to a tender plant when I set its roots in new soil. I know their names—common and scientific. Yep—I’m that weird plant lady. It’s okay, we all need quirks.

Seeding plants holds so many lessons, and here’s one I thought of today when I went out to check my rye grass. The seeds, when I spread them on the dirt, were hard. Very hard. I know from experience, if they don’t receive enough moisture after their initial contact with the dirt, they won’t germinate. The potential for life stays bound up in that hard barrier. They need the softening effect of water before life can break through. So, I’d watered the area, and the seeds softened. Life sprouted.

Made me think of this verse in Ezekiel. “I will remove your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.” Like those hard seeds, useless without life springing forth, God has sprinkled me clean, poured His spirit upon me, and given me a new heart. New life.

From Susan:

I scattered seeds for Texas bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes a while ago. When I go check on them now, I’m not looking for seeds anymore. I’m looking for flowers. A seed that is nestled in moist soil ceases to be a seed. It changes into something entirely new.

That is the kind of rebirth God offers use—total transformation into something much more beautiful than we were before. The trouble is, some days, when I focus on myself and my petty desires more than I focus on God, I start to shrivel into seediness again. That’s not God’s plan for me. Can you imagine a bluebonnet doing the same—returning to its seed-like state? It can’t. It isn’t supposed to. And neither am I.

Praise God whose mercies are new every morning. Today, I give him the hard places in my heart. Today, I give him my selfish ambitions and I ask—please God—cleanse me, and give me a new spirit. Turn my heart of stone into flesh.

Praise God for his patience with all his new creations.

I am not my own

Belonging to Jesus

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. ~ Gal 5:19-26, NASB

wedding ringsWhen I got married I changed my name. I changed my address, my college, my future plans. I change my allegiance. I was no longer a single woman, serving my own desires, looking out for my agenda. I declared myself his. I belong to my husband.

Sometimes we look at Jesus like He’s the genie in the lamp. I’ll call you when I need you, but otherwise, I’m doing my thing. Living on my own terms.

But a disciple belongs to Jesus. They have made a declaration, to God, and to the world, “I am His.” And what does that mean?

I belong to Jesus, I am no longer pledged to sin.
I belong to Jesus, I have laid aside selfish ambition.
I belong to Jesus, I am committed to His joy.
I belong to Jesus, I claim His household as mine.
I belong to Jesus, I am not my own.

Life was different after marriage, but fifteen years down the road, I don’t have any regrets when it comes to that pledge.

Life is different when we belong to Jesus, but in an eternity of life with Him, there won’t be a single regret.

I am not my own

Called to Unfailing Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but
do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~1Cr 13:1-3

How well-known is the love passage that follows these three verses? I’ll bet you could recite it-at least some of it. “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast…” These words cover wedding invitations, wall art of every variety. They find their way into music stanzas, and perhaps most notably this time of year, are scripted into countless Valentine’s Day cards.

But very often these lovely words are minimally applied. Love–agape, is the call of every
believer. Paul wrote this passage to a church, and it directly follows a section in which he fleshed out spiritual gifts. So, when he begins with, “if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love…” It is an extension of what he’d been addressing before. The church, every member, expressing the agape of God by how they live, what they do, how they serve.

See, back in chapter 12 of the book of Romans, Paul wrote that we, believers, are to living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. In other words, we are supposed to live a life that resembles Jesus. A life of service, of sacrifice; of love.

Love isn’t the warm fuzzies of an emotional moment. It’s not flowery and poetic and pretty. It’s hard. It gets down on its hands and knees to wash what no one else wants to touch. It offers kindness to the most undeserving gentile sinner. It forgives a traitor, one who has denied Him in the face of agony. It flings the wrongs done against Him as far as the east is from the west. In this evil-infested, fickle world, love never fails.

Unfailing love. That’s a little more than hearts and roses and pretty penmanship. It’s a tall, gritty order.

And it is the life to which I have been called.

I am a Citizen of Heaven

Safe Wings

But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, [Or to] turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people [shall be] my people, And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If [anything but] death parts you and me.”
— 
Ruth 1:16-17

I try to imagine this passage as it plays out. A woman in grief, still young, with options available to her, but determined. For what reason? To honor her dead husband? For the love of her bitter mother in law? I’m not sure. But her declaration is certain.

Your people will be mine. I will dwell with you, take your name, honor your God. Claim your home. I renounce myself as a Moabitess. I am now only Ruth, your daughter.

We think of home as something familiar. What if it’s rather a determination? An intentional choice that says “I’ve never been there, but that’s where you are to be, that is where I’ll be also.” What a transforming thought.

Ruth, this woman of reckless abandon, brings determination to life. Her resolve brought the notice and favor of Boaz, a man of standing who possessed all of the finest qualities. I love the blessing he speaks to Ruth in the fields.

“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” -Ruth 2:12
Under whose wings you have come to seek refuge. Jesus says to the disciple who has sought His refuge, “I am preparing a place for you. Where I am, you will be.”

Home with Him. Under the safety of His wings.