Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Simply Trust...

      Louisa M.R. Stead (1850-1917) felt the call to the mission field at an early age. That dream was hindered due to her frail health. At age 25 she married and a year later gave birth to a beautiful baby girl; Lily. Several years after Lily's birth, Stead's young husband suddenly died while trying to save a drowning child. In response to her grief, Stead penned the words to Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, based on Psalm 22:4-5 which says  “In You our fathers put their trust; they trusted and You delivered them.”   .
      Years later, Stead would remarry. She would realize her dream to be a missionary. Her daughter Lily would continue that dream by also entering the mission field. Stead's life was a testimony to the faithfulness of God.
      While few of us have lived through a tragedy such as this, the truth is that most Christians struggle with trusting God. We complain, cry, and shake our fists at God. We judge Him as unfaithful and try to manipulate our circumstances rather than just acknowledge our helplessness and lay our burdens at Jesus' feet. We live in a culture that is steeped in the pride of self-accomplishment & pride. God wants us to simply come to Him in humility, recognize our weaknesses, and trust in Him. He promises to be faithful and to make His perfect will a reality in our lives, but we have to let Him work. As you read through the words of this precious hymn, let the truths be birthed in your heart. It IS so sweet to trust in Jesus...He will be faithful to the end!

"Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus"

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, 'Thus says the Lord!'

**Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! 
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me 'Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I'm so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The "game" of life...

     Last Wednesday night I taught a Bible study which took its analogy from playing a game. To truly enjoy a game and to have a chance of winning, there are some critical factors to consider.
     First, you have to decide to play the game. Choosing a new game and expecting to win right away can be frustrating - for you and your partners -  but allowing for the learning curve and reading the game's manual will be invaluable helps as you begin. So, deciding to play or not is your first decision. Are you a spectator or a player? It's a choice you alone can make!
     Second, you have to play by the rules. If someone is cheating it takes all the fun out of playing. And if you don't know the rules, things can get really aggravating really fast. Rules are meant to help, not hinder.
     Thirdly,  choice of partners is crucial. Incompetent play ruins the game for everyone! You need to have the same strategies and goals for a partnership to be successful!
     Fourth is the importance of attitude...My mom's frustration was playing with laid-back partners. "If you don't care who wins, why play?" If you're out to just have fun but your partner is cut-throat, it will not be very enjoyable. Competition is a good thing within reason but when it turns harsh or judgmental, the stress to win becomes too important. Better to decide why you're playing before you start or it can be disaster.
     Strategy and patience are also important to some games. Making wise moves, planning ahead, analyzing the others' moves - all these things are critical in playing many different types of games. Careless moves can lead to quick defeat and lack of strategizing has ended many "battles". Patience and thought are required to get the winning edge.
     Lastly, losing doesn't mean you're a loser. We all win and we all lose sometimes. Even professionals have their "off" days so don't judge yourself by your victories or defeats. Those are meaningless standards!
     While life is not really a game, the analogies are pretty clear. In order to be successful in our Christian life, we have to study our manual (the Bible) and choose to participate by accepting the challenge of walking with Him! We have to learn the "rules" that God has laid out for our benefit and study to "show ourselves approved." We also have to choose good partners (in marriage, in fellowship, in church) that will aid us, advise us, keep us accountable, and help us when we make poor choices. We have to be serious about our walk with God, knowing that our adversary is playing for keeps. We also have to take every thought captive and use the wisdom God provides to avoid pitfalls or hasty decisions. And we need to remember that we will never be perfect until God decides to call us home. If we can win a little more often than we lose, and get a little better at making decisions along the way, then we are ahead of the game and God, the ultimate judge, will be pleased.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Just consider...

Yesterday I was sitting up on the bluff, enjoying the warm sunshine as I watched the beautiful ocean waves. There were just a few joggers on the beach and an occasional sailboat drifting by, but mostly it was just God, His amazing creation, and me! As I was sitting there, I was struck again by how nature reflects God's personality. Psalm 19:1 says "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork." The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 1:20-21 that looking at God's creation should be enough by itself to show man that there is a loving, all-powerful God, even if no words are spoken!

Consider the waves...Although man has tried in many ways to manage and direct them, they are unstoppable and constant. They go where they want and are unhindered by man's efforts to control them. God's plans are unstoppable as well. We may try to manipulate, subvert, or alter His plans but we never succeed. His ways have been established from the beginning and nothing can stop or change what He intends.

The tide is steady and consistent. It comes and goes without the slightest inconsistency. God's faithfulness is like that. It doesn't matter what storms come or what the times or seasons bring. God remains loving, caring, & comforting. He never gives in or gives up on us but continues to show His mercy and grace regardless of whether we accept it or not. We can't do anything that makes Him love us less - His agape love is forever, completely independent of our response.

The beauty of nature shows the diversity of God's creation. His world is not black and white, or shades of gray! He painted the land, sea, sky, and all of their inhabitants in a million shades and colors. He added sounds to bring peace, joy, and comfort. He designed an infinite number of patterns, shapes and sizes to show variety and give us reminders of His creativity. He is so multi-dimensional that we should never try to "put Him in a box" of our limited thinking. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 2:9..."Eye has not seen and ear has not heard nor has it entered into the heart of man all that God has prepared for those who love Him!"  We can't even imagine the depths of God's love, the scope of His creativity, the wonder of His plan. It's totally beyond our ability to comprehend!

God's creation clearly shows His character. Whatever you have on the list to do today, take a few minutes to ponder the beauty, design, and complexity of the world around you. Thank God that He has given thought to you, your life, your situation, and that He has a limitless number of creative ways to help you in and through your daily walk. Thank Him for His faithfulness, generosity, care, and love. Respond to Him by living your best life today, and showing forth His glory through all that you do! (Matt. 5:16)

Have a wonderful, blessed day!