Archives For Affirmation

The Beach

July 9, 2015 — Leave a comment

woman-570883_1280A beach is a relaxing place of meditation. Close your eyes and your ears open to hear God. Breath through your nose and you taste the goodness of God. The music of waves crashing upon the shore applauds His control. The wind sings a creative song. Your heart longs to be in tune with God more so than nature. It is possible; He has made it so.

The Quiet Canvas

October 22, 2013 — 2 Comments

Image Credit Madison Wright

fairyjar1The simple act of being quiet before the Lord is a discipline that should be visited often. Quietness is a blank canvas before the Lord. In quietness, God makes faint undertones of color building to a masterpiece for His glory. He is the artist; you are the canvas.

My daughter Madison is an artist. She has work hanging all over her room. Each work tells a story-a story that was in her heart at the time. I’ve had the honor of seeing most of her work come to life over the days; weeks and months she would work on them.

Sometimes, I didn’t have a clue what the painting was until almost the very end. I would have to wait, and then once she put the finally brush strokes to the canvas the work would come alive and completely reveal itself. At other times, I could tell from the beginning what the work was and so in that case, the joy would come in watching her layer the colors making them burst off the canvas.

Quietness is where God works. Let Him paint. Let Him layer. Let Him choose the colors. Your part is to choose quietness. He waits for you. He has a grand idea for using you.

Quietness.

 Image Credit

freedom

Isaiah 55:1 (ESV) “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

In Isaiah 54, God has offered forgiveness and now in chapter 55 the call to walk in forgiveness is given. It is not enough to be free; we must live free. We don’t have to order our lives around the axis of a world system that begs for us to dance as its puppets. We don’t have to order our lives around a fragmented social system that includes only those with more power.

In God’s order, everyone is included. We have a Christ centered alternative to be fully human and live fully human in Him and His redeemed order of justice. We have been given the choice of the one that choose us. In Christ, we are the tribe of Revelation 7:9-10

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (NKJV)

We are His redeemed community living a life of radical love in a sea of hatefulness. We render not evil for evil, but we love our way through this age until the age to come overtakes us, and death is swallowed up forever.

We need not use violence to fight for our rights, but instead as one writer has so eloquently put it, “Our violent ways find an end in the wounds of Christ, and in his forgiveness we are offered healing from our self-inflicted pain.”

For now, death remains but soon death will be swallowed up forever.

Isaiah 25:6-9 (ESV) 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

 

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There are two things I’m sure of. One, God is always faithful, and second, it’s possible to make an idol out of timing.  In 2 Timothy 2:13 it teaches us, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” In other words, God is going to accomplish all things necessary for His glory alone. It’s not ultimately about us; it’s about God.

As to the second truth I’m sure of, timing is in God’s hands alone, and if we focus on the timing rather than God, we make timing an idol. I’ve done this many times in my Christian walk with God. I’ve been hoping for something, waiting for something, and wondering more about God’s timing than about God. Needless to say, it wasn’t until I got my focus off timing that God moved.

God created your life and cares more deeply about it than you do. God birthed His church and cares for it more deeply than you do. I guess you could add two more things to my list that I’m sure of. When it comes to your life and to His church, you can believe His plan is perfect and better than your plan. If fact, Ephesians 3:20, speaking of God says that He is, “…able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”

The power at work in us is God the Holy Spirit. He prays and knows the perfect will of God in and through us for His glory alone. The more we focus on God and not the circumstances or the timing of something that needs to happen, the faster God seems to move and get the job done for His glory.

For example, the church I now pastor was in need of a permanent church building. We had been  looking for over a year and a half. Nothing seemed to open for us. We were renting and doing okay, but still, we had no home of our own. Money in the bank was great and if we found something we could surely move on it with confidence.

However, God had a better plan. His plan was to get us to the place where it was impossible to point to our timing or money as the answer. Through a course of events,  the bulk of our money had dried up. We had money in the bank to meet the bills but nothing, and I mean NOTHING to go toward a property of our own.

Little did we know, God was dealing with a group of people who had a church, and was praying to God for His perfect will. The church was founded in 1917 and after many wonderful years God now had a next step plan. They were  feeling called to look for another church to continue moving forward with God’s plan.

One of the ladies in the other church was praying, and God showed her the face of a lady in our congregation. That prayer led to about two weeks of talk and prayer between our two church families.

To make a beautiful story short, (I will give a full account in our church history book) with no money to offer them to buy the building and much prayer from both our churches, they heard God speak and tell them to give us the building free and clear. What a magnificent miracle! Our timing was replaced with God’s timing and with no money hardly in the bank; God did what man couldn’t do.

I’m not sure what is going on in your life today, but you can know one thing for sure…God is able to move in your life for His glory without you having anything to give to Him at all. All you must do is keep your eyes on the one that has His eyes constantly on you.

scar

I have a scar on the palm side of my left hand, near the base of my thumb. I once had an accident while hunting and cut it open. The only thing I had on hand in the woods was some crazy clue I had in my bag. I poured that into the cut and pinched my skin together to stop the bleeding and to close up the injury.

I finished my hunt, returned to my truck for the drive home. Everything seemed fine until I grab hold of the steering wheel. I felt a shock go through my whole body followed by pain I can’t even begin to describe. I looked at my cut and couldn’t see anything, but I knew something was not right.

Over the next couple of days,  I kept hitting my injury on random objects and every time the pain would just grow worse. A shock of pain would course through my body and almost bring me to my knees.  I would look at my wound and to the naked eye it seemed to be healing just fine. However, it wasn’t fine. There was a major problem.

I went to the doctor, and he informed me that I did a excellent job with my homemade superglue stitching, but with a pause in his speech and funny smile on his face, He informed me I had made one big mistake.  I had left a never exposed and that was the reason I was feeling so much pain. He would have to open  my injury and take care of it.

He did a great job. He took care of the exposed nerve, and the pain went away. However, for some strange reason, whenever I rub my finger across the scar it tingles and has a numb feeling. It feels weird. It shoots a numb feeling down the length of my thumb.

So, what’s the lesson? What’s the devotion? Scar will be imposed upon us in this life that you can be sure of. Some scars are self-inflicted while other scars are inflicted upon us by friends and strangers. Either way, the scars remain and although the hurt often fades away, numbness and tingling seem to remain.  Some scars in this life simply have odd, yet funny memories attached to them, much like the one I just shared with you.

However, other scars are painful in a very intrusive and controlling way. There are scars attached to injustices and evil that was conveyed upon you. You are not alone. Jesus experienced that kind of scaring also. He was beating and placed upon a cross. Nails were driven  in his hands and feet. He was stabbed in the side, and blood and water flowed. He took the scars for you and I.

You are not alone. He stands with you. His scars point to the day pain and tears will be no more. When I look at my scars on my body I surely have memories. Some of the memories are not bad while others haunt me, especially the scars of my soul. However, I see the future. I embrace the future. How about you?

Jesus came and stood among the disciples. He spoke to them, Peace be with you as he showed them his hands and his side.

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Have you ever felt numb emotionally and spiritually? I’m sure you have. Maybe even today you find yourself in just such a place. You don’t have any feelings because they seem to be gone. The effect of sadness and depression over the many closed doors in your life have slowly cut off your faith blood supply, and you feel only numbness.

Numbness! That place in your faith life where you want to completely give up, but you know you can’t, and you know you won’t. Numbness is the part of walking by faith that personally haunts me the most. Maybe you know the feeling I’m referring to?

You are doing everything right and still all the doors in your life seem to close with a dull rudeness. You break out your faith check list to make sure you are walking pleasing to the Lord and sure enough everything for the most part seems to be right on track. Why then is every door closing, and yet for everyone else around you, the doors seem to not even have a close option?

Numbness will take you to the place of Elijah. Elijah had just witnessed an incredible miracle in his life. He witnessed God move on Mount Carmel in such a way that human involvement couldn’t be credited with any part of it. Yet, not long after the open door miracle, we see him whining that he’s all alone as a follower of God. He is numb! He is in the perfect storm.

Numbness led him to isolation but even in the isolation God was there. Numbness can’t push God away from you. He is commanded to get up and eat and to his surprise food and water have been supplied for him. Numbness can’t cut you off from your needs being supplied.

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before GOD. GOD will pass by.” We are informed that a hurricane type wind passed through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind. Then after the wind there came an earthquake, but God wasn’t found in it either. Next, fire came, and God was not found in the fire. Finally, a whisper! God was in the whisper.

Numbness can’t be blown away. Numbness can’t be shattered away. Numbness can’t be shaken away. Numbness can’t be burnt away. However, numbness can be whispered away.

The whisper always comes. The whisper always comes. I’m waiting on my whisper. It will come!  How about you?

river

There are 365 days in a year. I’ve never tried, but I would be willing to bet, if I placed the word happy on each day of a calendar when I finished the day happy, there would be less happy days than not. If it were one big wall calendar, you could back away from it to get the whole view, and it would look like a hopeless sight. However, that’s not the way I would see it as a Christ follower.

As a Christ follower my goal is not happiness. My inheritance is joy. Joy is not even a goal. Joy is a gift. I don’t have to fight for it. I don’t have to earn it. The Spirit of God living on the inside of me gives Joy. Now, back up from the same calendar and take another look and you would see the word joy on every day.

Happiness is an emotion. I enjoy experiencing happiness, but it’s not life giving. Joy, on the other hand, is a bi-product of the Holy Spirit. Joy arrives each day on the wings of mercy and walks with me through the ups and down of everyday life. When I walk with joy, happiness often merges along side of me for a while, and it’s nice, but when happiness leaves I don’t grieve because joy is always there.

Joy can’t leave because it’s a gift of God. Weeping might endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  If happiness is your goal there are many things you can do that brings it to you temporary. However, once that experience is over, happiness runs off and begs for you to wear yourself out chasing it again.

You never have to chase joy. Joy is part of the DNA that was given to you when the Spirit of God came to live inside of you. You are a temple of God, and His temple is a temple full of Joy. At times, you might sing a song of unhappiness, but underneath the unhappiness is a river of Joy that can’t be explained or shut off. It just is! Enjoy your joy and you are enjoying God Himself.

Galatians 5:22-23

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There will be times that God causes you to notice people, and at other times He will simply lead someone right to you directly. I have had both of these happen in my life, almost on a daily basis.

Once, I was in a local store in California shopping with my family. My son Noah had to use the restroom. After we finished, we were on our way back to meet my wife and daughter, when I noticed a woman visibly upset. God touched my spirit and caused me to stop. I asked her, “What’s troubling you?” “Nothing,” she replied. I then said, “Are you sure?”

She responded by letting me know I would not want to hear it. I assured her, I would not have stopped if I didn’t want to hear it. She smiled and began to pour her heart out. She spoke to me for about five minutes about all that was going wrong for her. Her troubles were pressing in on her, and she felt alone and helpless. She was frustrated, angry and bitter about life.

I listened to every word she said, and I never broke eye contact. My son watching was just an added bonus because I knew he would ask me later why we stopped for a total stranger, and I would have the opportunity to pour into him compassion ministry. When the lady was finished speaking, I said, “You know, I bet the rest of your day is going to be just fine.”

She laughed and said, “I think you’re right. Thanks for taking the time to listen.” “You’re welcome,” I said and my son and I departed. I know it sounded effortless and not much like a miracle, but for her it meant everything. It was the miracle she needed for the day.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 48-49).  . Kindle Edition.

heart-centred

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

It has been said that, “Love alone is credible; nothing else ought to be believed. This is the achievement, the “work” of faith…to believe that there is such a thing as love…and that there is nothing higher or greater than it…”

When heaven and earth come together, and all things are put to right, It’s my conviction we will not need faith or hope anymore; we will only need and partake of God’s love which is eternal. That is how beautiful and powerful the love of God is.

In this present world,  we need faith. In this present world,  we need hope. In the world to come we need neither faith nor hope, for God’s love will be complete and all consuming. Death, hell and the grave will be  cast away forever.

How powerful and beauty is God’s love I’m referring to? Jesus left all of glory for you and me because of His love. He lived among humanity because of His love. He washed the feet of His disciples showing love that was indescribable. He died upon a cross demonstrating His love for all that will repent and turn to Him for rescuing from their sins.

I think of the beautiful words in Zephaniah 3:17, where the Lord is said to be in their midst, and a mighty one who will rescue them. It goes on to say that he will even rejoice over them with gladness and will quiet them by His very love. It even declares God will gloat over them with loud singing.

Yes, God’s love is great for His children and His love is credible. Even though, the world around you may fall apart, His love will always pull you close to His heart. You are His. If you have been crucified with Christ, you no longer live, but it is Christ who is living on the inside of you.

That’s right my dear friend! God loved you so much when you turned to Him in repentance and faith, He moved in! Yes, God’s love is credible, and that love lives on the inside of you. He choose to love you eternal for His glory alone.  There is coming a day, Faith and Hope no more will give way to His eternal love and we will be with Him and the body of Christ forever. Think on that today and know you are eternal loved.

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I’m not good with emptiness, but God is great with emptiness. Emptiness often becomes God’s greatest creative place in your life and mine.

Joseph was found in an empty well in Genesis 37:24 because of the envy of his brothers; yet eventually through the sovereign determination of God is made prime minister, second in the land of Egypt.

Emptiness doesn’t have to be a negative situation or a negative emotion when you know God is truly sovereign in your life. In fact, the greatest place to see the true message of what God can do with “empty” things is to ponder the empty tomb of Christ. The empty tomb is not a message of defeat and hopelessness. The empty tomb speaks to all of us, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:18

Maybe today you are feeling empty. Maybe today the future doesn’t seem so hopeful for you. Maybe today you can’t see past the moment of pain at all. Instead, You find yourself  hearing the negative and defeating voice of emptiness, and not the life giving voice emptiness has under the command of God.

You need to choose which voice you are going to listen to. Choose the negative and defeating voice and you will reap what that path leads to. Choose the life giving voice of emptiness and you will reap what that path leads to. If you are jobless today, if you are broken today by stress that is almost unbearable, if you are in the middle of family drama that is endless, there is hope for you. Your emptiness is a gift if you listen to the right voice.

Emptiness is a crisis, but in every crisis there is an opportunity for God to show off for His own glory. If you truly believe that God is sovereign, then you must believe that God has a plan and purpose in and through your emptiness. You can’t ever forget that God always shows up to demonstrate His glory in His perfect timing. God can work wonders beyond your dreams!

Which voice will you choose? Will you choose the negative and defeating voice, or the life giving voice of God? I think we both know which is correct. Now choose wisely.