Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back to the Israelites....

In considering the GREAT deal of time spent preparing for and then executing all the many sacrifices and rituals and ceremonies that God required of His people, we could easily begin to feel like "it's too much!" why would anyone want to put themselves through all that? And then have everyone around them hate them! And why? Have you ever asked yourself WHY Gods chosen people have been so hated down through the centuries, even into today? Have you ever really considered the reasons?
At this point, you might think I have an answer, but I don't. In fact, quite the opposite. I find the more I learn about God, His character, the principles in the Bible, instead of answers, I have more questions!

This is what I've come to as a result of spending time considering the "plight" of the Israelites:
1. They are a GREAT example of the fraility of the flesh that plagues every single one of us without exception
2. Our need of reminders about how desperately we NEED to stay in contact with God our Heavenly Father constantly is, well, constant!
3. The extraordinary LOVE and PATIENCE God the Father has toward us is way, way, way beyond our comprehension!

Even with all the ritual designed to keep them always in mind of WHO they serve, the Israelites managed to forget or at least put it aside, more often than not. They followed after other gods who were not gods at all, but manmade images with no power of any kind except to cause them to sin against the One True God.

Aren't we just exactly the same? We think we've designed a ritual for walking a Christian walk, only to discover just how vulnerable, and needy, and fallible we really are. So whats the answer? Saul, whom God changed to the Apostle Paul gave the only possible answer a very long time ago, and it hasn't changed at all:
GRACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
More on that later...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

OPPORTUNITY

God has so graciously opened doors for Clay and I to share the glorious gospel of salvation in many avenues we never would have thought of on our own. In addition to these opportunities, He has been opening other doors as well. It amazes me how this great God works! Clay has always thought I should "play" his keyboard - adding drums and bass guitar to his guitar for the original Worship songs we've written. The first time we tried - uh-oh! Disaster! A little prayer, a little trust in the Lord, and one tiny unseen "tickler" help sheet from my wonderful hubby, and we sound like an entire orchestra instead of just us two! All the glory goes to God, for without Him, none of this would be possible or happening. Saturday, May 22nd, we've been invited to participate in the Port St Lucie Christian Church neighborhood outreach Pig Roast picnic - where we will sing and share the salvation message. Clay will debut his newest worship/evangelist song called "A voice crying in the Wilderness". If I knew how to do the You Tube, or put video on the web here or Facebook, I would put it out for all of you to hear. It really is phenominal and Spirit inspired!
Please keep us in prayer as we prepare for the OPPORTUNITIES God is providing for outreach! Blessings upon you in Jesus Name!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Such a loving God!

In our daily reading of our Bible, we are once again going through the "Israel experience", as I like to call it. It consists of humanity at it's best, and worse! There are so many lessons applicable to our lives today. Remembering that the Israelites were actual, real, live humans with thoughts and emotions and desires and hopes and dreams and hurts and families and jobs and the struggle to relate to and obey the God who called them out to be His own people - whew! I find myself at times so overwhelmed with the details of it all, I just have to shake my head and throw up my hands and thank GOD that He doesn't give what is deserved - annihilation in most cases! - but that He gives GRACE! Oh, Grace! That joyful, freeing, free gift! Holiness is the requirement - GRACE is the loving gift.

The sheer amount of sacrifice that was required to keep the Israelites right with God is astronomical. There were morning sacrifices, sin sacrifices, peace offerings, pledge offerings, special offerings and ritual cleansing offerings, monthly, weekly, daily sacrifices plus all the Occasions and Festivals and Feasts and Remembrances!

As Clay and I were talking about it, we wondered "Why would God require such frequent sacrifice? When did the people have time to do everything else life required of them, when did the Priests have a moment? So many animals sacrificed!" It seemed excessive to say the least, until we looked at the bigger picture. God parted the Red Sea and delivered the people from return to Egyptian slavery, and the Israelites response? Whining and complaining about something as simple as food! Let's face it, they could have taken care of that themselves. They could have planted, hunted or even gone to neighboring land and purchased. There were options! They did the right thing in that they turned to God, but they did it the wrong way - acting like they were entitled - had the right to His provision. The funny thing is, they did! He intended to care for them. It would have been nice if they'd asked with faith, received with joy, been grateful and loving toward the Lord for His provision. They weren't, as we often aren't.

All those sacrifices? Totally necessary to keep the people REMEMBERING!! To keep them focused on the God who loved them. We humans have a very short attention span! How quickly and easily we forget the things done for our benefit, and how selfishly we demand more, More, MORE!!!
We’ll continue to develop this idea over the next few days or so…..
Til then, keep this thought in mind and heart – GOD IS FAITHFUL, TRUSTWORTHY, STEDFAST AND HE LOVES YOU!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A different Kind of Lifestyle...

Most people find a "comfort zone" and stay there. Humans, we're creatures of habit and a comfort zone is, well, comfortable! Take the church thing as an example. Many find a church and then stay there - forever. I've always admired those people, truth be told, I've just never been able to be one of them! God put something else in my heart, and I've got to be true to what God has called me to. So when you tell people your going to do something, they naturally ask "with what church?" People can't imagine doing something outside of what they are comfortable with, and I understand that. I don't want to live that way, but I understand it. When we began to tell friends and family about this "missions trip" we're on, they asked, "with what church?" Hmmm... Gods church? Is that an acceptable answer? The bible tells us that WE are the church of God. Wherever we are, that's where the church is, or should be.
It's a different way to live. Outside the "norm" and outside the conventional lines. In a way, this IS our "comfort zone", doing the different - seeking new ways to connect with people, new ways to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and new ways to be a living sacrifice as Romans calls us to be. Sometimes, I must admit, it's a little frightening, not having conventional things to "fall back on", but mostly, it's so very exciting and the most wonderful adventure life can be! We never know what might happen next! Maybe, nothing. But maybe, EVERYTHING!!
As long as God keeps opening doors, we'll keep walking through by FAITH, and enjoy living DIFFERENTLY.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Learning never stops!

I don’t ever want to give the impression that Clay & I are out here doing what we’re doing because we’ve got it all figured out, or somehow, we’ve arrived (whatever that means!) or that we’re not still learning as we go! If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s to expect the unexpected! God may do something the same way he did it before, or He may do something completely and totally unrelated to what we’re thinking and He will do things completely different as it suits His purposes and will. We’re looking at things from a disadvantaged point of view all the time – mostly our own narrow point of view! – and God is always looking at things from the greatest point of view! He knows already exactly how to work all things together for good! He knows the end result and how to get there in such a way so He brings along others who hadn’t even known they were signed up to take the ride! AMAZING!
The biggest concern Clay & I have then is to listen for Gods guidance. I write that in the assumptive sense that when we hear His voice, we will obey! In our prayers we are learning to ask for His solutions and ideas and not ours. That sounds simple, and most of us would say that of course in our every prayer we are looking for His will and not ours to be done. Without offending any, may I suggest that you take a closer listen to your prayers? I say this because I discovered it in my own prayers. I think I’m asking and seeking His will, but in honesty, my prayers are more along the line of, “ God do this and do that for me as I desire it to be done”. Tough to admit that for certainly I want to think I’ve achieved some kind of Christian maturity after all these years, but God pointed that out as a learning experience and if there is one thing I know for sure it’s that He’s never wrong!
The point is not that we haven’t arrived, I think we can agree that “arrival” won’t take place until Christ returns and gathers His saints and so shall we ever be with the Lord, for then we shall know even as we are known, but the point is being open and yielded to the Holy Spirit so we can keep growing! As long as we are “teachable” God will continue to teach us and grow us up in Him, as the Apostle Paul talked about in Ephesians. So keep learning and growing in the Lord! It’s true, that saying I learned many years ago. The more I get to know about the Lord the more I realize there is to know about the Lord! Keep it simple sugar, but keep pressing in to Him for more and more!