Monday, July 23, 2012

My Purpose

I haven't shared from my personal daily readings for a long time.  But this morning I can't help it.  This captures our reason and focus for living--and I continue to be incredibly blessed by my journey through the book of Revelation.

Here's a thought from today's reading:

Monday, July 23, 2012 
Revelation 15

v. 4-6: Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”  After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.  And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and
having their chests girded with golden bands.

Impression:  God’s judgment results in our worship.  And those who administer His justice do so in holiness and righteousness.  There is nothing dirty, shameful, wrong, or self-exalting in the angels God sends to deliver His wrath.

Application:  I am not God’s instrument of wrath.  God has agents designed for that purpose.  My purpose, along with all the saints is to fear, glorify and worship God (v. 4).  I am a lowly creature whose vision is limited, whose ability is finite, whose loyalty is divided.  But God has chosen me to glorify Him.  I have the opportunity each day, each hour, to honor and exalt Him with what He’s given.  Am I willing to do that in my home?  In our marriage?  Our community?  Our church?  With my gifts? With our resources?

Oh, God, grant me a heart of worship, hands of service, and wholehearted devotion.  I am incapable of any of these apart from your faithful, loving, guiding Hand.

"He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vacation Bible School

We are hosting Vacation Bible School this week.  When someone in our neighborhood or church mentions Vacation Bible School (VBS), we don't just nod and say, "Oh, yes, it's about time for VBS."  We say, "VBS sure is fun!" and think of the explosion that 's about to take place.

Pastor Waldron has a vision to reach children.  The children of our neighborhood specifically.  We run an all-day, every day VBS for about 150 children each summer with about 40 volunteer staff.  We're not a large congregation.  We may have 180 for Sunday worship, so VBS numbers rival our total attendance.

Yesterday the emphasis was on sin.  Defining it, giving specific Scripture and examples.  At one point, a fellow worker came and got me to help counsel a young girl who responded to the Bible story.  As we talked about sin, tears rolled down her face and she hid behind her fists. We looked at 1 Peter 3:18 where Peter wrote about Jesus, the just, dying once for the unjust, to bring us to God.  After asking for God's forgiveness and confessing belief in Jesus she looked at me with large wet eyes, "I just don't want to be a sinner anymore."  I couldn't agree more.  What a beautiful picture of redemption!

God is doing a work.  It's not our work, it's His, but we are laboring in partnership with Him for the gospel this week, for the eternity of souls.  Please pray with and for us.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Doing Battle

One night last week at Jr. High camp, I lay awake praying.  And praying.  Opposition from the girls was fierce—their disinterest in chapel services, constant arguing, conflict, and resistance to instructions.  On that particular night a fourth girl in our cabin made a profession of faith.  When we got back to the room after post-chapel counseling, the others were stewing and steaming.  Someone bumped a mirror and it shattered on the cement floor.  My bedside light was unplugged.  Plugging it in resulted in a hiss, pop, and show of sparks.  We lost power.  Girls screamed and jumped at each other, calling out names from horror movies.

I slept after power was restored and having read from Psalms, but awoke at 2:30a.m., restless.   At some point I found myself musing over the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and was thankful for the many sermons and illustrations over the years.

My first thought was for my head and mind.  I had a very real need for the helmet of salvation.  Not only would it protect my ability to think and function, it was a very real barrier between life and death.  I was comforted by its weight and fit.  It did not shift.  It would not impair my vision or ability to fight.

I remembered the belt of truth.  Gathering the uncertainties and self-doubt rumbling in my mind, I quoted Scripture.  Taking hold of untruth and pulling reality into folds, I rearranged and tucked it in where it belonged so deceit would no longer hinder my freedom to act in faith.

Next, the breastplate of righteousness.  Not mine, Christ’s.  As sin and guilt surfaced, I confessed my sin and asked God for the gift of repentance.  My vital spiritual organs are vulnerable—my emotions, my memories, my inner workings—but in Christ they are covered , beyond the reach of the adversary.  Christ Himself stands between my guilt, my sin, my shame and the accusations of the evil one.

Oh, the gospel of peace.  I desperately needed and asked for this.  In my fight against rulers, powers, world forces of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness, I recognized my weakness to strike out at people and circumstances.  I needed spiritual feet that could stand, settled and confident, fully resting in God’s ability to wage war while I stood rooted in peace and serenity toward those around me.

Even as I prayed, the shield of faith was moving, darting, blocking distracting thoughts, thwarting excuses, justification for my own sinful choices, and random musings.  How necessary to know, to believe, to take hold of, God.  He was.  He is.  He will be.  And He provides the faith necessary to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

With the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, in hand, I prayed.  For those who had trusted in Christ, for those who hadn’t, for my weakness and tendency to sin, for those around me, for the speakers, for my family at home.  It was a couple of hours before I had peace and rested into morning.  And now, on this side of that specific battle, I have a greater understanding of the armor of God.  How necessary each piece is and how God has armed us to stand firm.  And having done all, to stand.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

When I Can't

A whine.  "I can't!"  The mantra of Jr. High girls at camp.  Then, by God's grace, one of them posted this note on the door:  Ask God for help first.

This mean counselor doesn't give free time until verses are recited.  "I can't!" 
"What does the sign say?"
"Ask God for help first."

Girls were angry and resentful, using tacky glue on another's bedding.  "I don't want to deal with this, God."  Then I looked at the note on the door.  "Ask God for help first."

A salvation invitation was given and two girls repented, accepting God's forgiveness through Christ.  A third was confused and lost.  "I can't!"
"What does the sign say?"
"Ask God for help first."

On the lake, a camper was thrown off the innertube, into the lake.  She struggled to get on. "I can't!"
"What does the sign say?"
"Ask God for help first."

The final day this counselor couldn't go on.  She fell apart and needed a break.  "I can't." 
"What does the sign say?"she asked herself.
"Ask God for help first."

And our memory passage for the week was spot-on:

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."  (Ephesians 4:14-21)

In the end,  the verses were recited, 4 salvation decision were made, conflicts were resolved, no one drowned in the lake or got left behind, and this counselor had to ask for help, which the Lord graciously provided. Our God is amazing.  What a privilege to serve and be used!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Living Worship

There is beauty in serving together, a glory that reflects and magnifies God.  I noticed it yesterday afternoon when our daughter, Rachael, asked for help sewing Vacation Bible School bugs and the girls and I pitched in.  We sat on the floor and at the sewing machine working fabric, googly eyes, scissors, thread and pipe cleaners, the four ladies of our home.  As I ran loose stitches in repetition for the pill bug, I wondered if perhaps we were experiencing a unique kind of worship.  It was for God's purpose, by His enabling, and with the resources He'd provided.  And, by His grace, it was free of bickering, pride and strife.

This morning as I sat down to read Revelation, I saw the same thing:  And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” (4:8)

The four creatures serve and worship together.  There is not an aloneness, but a togetherness, a unity of purpose, mind, and spirit from God, the Author of life and unity.  Think of it, left to ourselves we do it alone.  We want it  our way.  We want the sense of accomplishment, of prestige and power that come with solitary success.  But that is not God.  God is three-in-one.  God is present in His Body, the Church.  God is a person of fellowship, submission and cooperation.  And God is most glorified when we set aside our singularity in deference to His supremacy (Philippians 2, Romans 12, Ephesians 1-count the plural pronouns!).

I was also struck with the thought that, even if my being were full of eyes, I could never take in enough of God.  Everything about Him is deserving of worship and praise, day and night, without ceasing.  The verse, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," took on a whole new meaning. Our view and perspective are so clouded by sin and distractions that praise is far from our natural state.  We cannot see His glory, let alone live in it.  Perhaps, the farther we are from God and His glory, the less we live and speak with worship and praise.  The clearer our vision, the closer we are to Him, the more we see and acknowledge His awesome power, might, wisdom and love. 

May today be lived with praise and worship:  in my conversation, meal preparation, laundry ministrations, time with husband and children.  It can be.  It should be.  As God is present.