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Archive for January, 2009

I have a friend who is a math tutor.  Several years ago she tutored a high school girl named Canita.  Canita not only learned math from my friend, but she also learned Christ.  Canita entered college as a strong believer.  Her studies in International Health included a research project in Ghana.  This is a portion of one of the emails Canita sent during her four month stay in Ghana.  It has affected me so deeply that I wanted to share it.

“Waiting is definitely something I’ve gotten a stronger appreciation for since being here. My prayer life has catapulted to new heights, causing my craving for the Father to become so much deeper. Given my surroundings, I’ve had no other choice but to grow. See, the believers I hang out with in Ghana aren’t your typical Christians. They give the word “radical” new meaning and truly embody our old school description of a “Jesus freak.” I have friends here whose daily routines look something like this (look closely): 8:00am-4pm: work, 6:30pm-8:30pm: church, 12am-3am: personal prayer time, 3am-5am: personal bible study, 5am-6:30am: morning physical exercise. No, this is not an embellishment! When do they sleep you ask?! My friend, they don’t. Aside from the couple of hours they are able to squeeze in here or there, rarely do they sleep. When I first discovered this, I was astonished. As a student of International Health, I was initially very concerned for their physical well-being. This, I thought, can not be healthy. Yet, when I see each of them every day they always seem to have three times more energy than I do. They’re never tired, never irritable, and never ill. Like Paul, these men and women literally put their bodies under the subjection of the Holy Spirit daily (2 Corinthians 9:27). They fast weekly, pray constantly, and truly re-present Christ in this part of the world. As you could imagine, there’s no way I can live among such a humble, surrendered group of believers and not be moved. More than anything, they’ve taught me the art of sacrificial waiting. I’ve found that something happens in the spirit when we sacrificially give of our time, our sleep, our food, and our comfort to seek the heartbeat of God.”

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And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I  know their sorrows.  So I have come down to deliver them out of the land of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.  Exodus 3:7-8

I have seen
I have heard
I know
I have come

One of the most captivating truths of Christianity is that we do not serve some far off, uninvolved God who is indifferent to us.  Consider this gospel truth – “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  Eph 2:13

He created the entire universe and died on the cross for my sins.

He rules the whole world each moment and hears every word that I pray.

He is enthroned in heaven and yet He is with me daily.

The voice of the Lord thunders from heaven and whispers to my heart.

In 10,000 different ways He displays His love to those who are His.

He sees
He hears
He knows
He has come

Oh, how I love Him.

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His Bigger Plan

Little one don’t be afraid
For no temptation comes
But what has passed through My hand first
Sifted through My love

I seek not to destroy you
Nor to make you strong
But to teach you how to lean on Me
Is why this trial’s prolonged

If I had rescued you at once
When your first cries began
You may have been happier
But Mine’s a bigger plan

It’s required that you be broken
For My glory to shine through
And isn’t this what you’ve cried out
For Me to do for you?

Rest in My hand, my little one
Trust me to do this task
Conforming you into my image
Just like you have asked

And the little one responds:

Who am I to struggle
Against my Lord and King?
I’ve trusted my soul to You
I trust You in this thing

And though I beg You stay Your hand
Hear not my feeble cries
For I’ll never know the glory
Until I first have died

So let the flesh then gasp and wail
And take its final breath
As glorious resurrection follows
Hard upon this death

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And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”  Genesis 41:52

Joseph was a man who knew a great deal about affliction.  Betrayed by brothers, accused falsely, forgotten.  These are the things in life that can leave us scarred.  But they don’t have to.  God, who holds our times in His hand, can turn our affliction into something fruitful and glorifying to Him.  This is what God did in the life of Joseph.

It is interesting to notice how Jesus responded to times of grief.  When He learned of the death of John the Baptist, He retreated for a few moments alone.  But He didn’t stay there.

It is one of those wonderful ways of God that He often chooses to make the land of affliction a fruit-bearing land.   Our human tendency can be to isolate ourselves and nurse our wounds.  Or rehearse our wounds, thus opening them again and again.  It is  often from these broken places that God will bring life.  But we must be willing to move past the pain, the desire for vindication, the trap of self-pity, and begin to see the potential that exists in each affliction for God to be glorified.

Affliction is the common lot of all men.   We may choose to be self absorbed and waste it.  Or we may choose to cast ourselves, in the midst of the pain, at the feet of a loving God, to be a vessel that demonstrates His glory.

Here I am,  Lord.

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Rejoice

“And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them saying “Rejoice!”  So they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him.”  Matthew 28:9

What an amazing moment this must have been.  These women, who moments ago were expecting to see the body of a dead Jesus, are now confronted with the living Christ.  Surely there must have been an explosion of emotions that surged within them as their eyes beheld the One they loved.  One they thought they would not see again.  In a moment, all their sorrow turned to joy.  I hardly think Jesus’ encouragement to rejoice was necessary.  What else could they have done?

But in this word, I see Jesus inviting them to join Him in rejoicing in an event that they could not even fully comprehend at the time.  All they knew was that the One they loved was alive from the dead.  In this they rejoiced.  But Jesus knew that He had just defeated death, hell and the grave.  The power of sin had been broken and the enemy of our souls had been conquered.  Mercy and grace had prevailed.

Rejoice!

This is no mere exhortation to joy.  This is the triumphant cry of a victor. 

So let us rejoice in His victory.  Today and everyday.
 

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As the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry approached, He began to prepare His disciples for what was about to happen; that He would no longer be with them.  He spoke to them using words such as these:

“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”  John 16:28

The only one who ever walked this earth that truly had a comprehension of the glories of heaven was Jesus.   These are things beyond our ability to comprehend.  We have never seen anything so beautiful as what awaits us there.  Yet when He speaks of leaving this earth He doesn’t refer to Himself as going to heaven, but as going to the Father.  For Jesus, who knew the reality of heaven, even greater than the splendor of the place He was returning to was the magnificence of the One He was returning to.  It was never about a place; it was about a Person.

And Jesus says to us in John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am there you may be also.”

Streets of gold, gates of pearl…..beautiful stuff.  But I await something far more magnificent – to see the face of the One who has loved me with a love beyond anything I’ve ever known.  One so perfect and holy that my mind cannot comprehend it.   But one day my eyes will see Him.  What a glorious day that will be.
 

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This is the day

“This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24

I will say again, that I love the sovereignty of God.  I believe it when the Scriptures say that my steps are ordered by the Lord and that He has prepared good works for me to walk in.  Each day is fashioned and prepared for me. 

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”   Psalm 139:16

Here’s a potential difficulty…..do I believe as strongly that He made the bad days as well as the good days?  I don’t think there is any way we can get around it.  The Lord has specially planned difficulties for us; and that is still the day that the Lord has made.  But can we rejoice in it?  Can we see beyond the inconvenience or sorrow it may bring into our life and let it “work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”?

Life is so short.  Just a vapor.  Just a few moments to love Jesus on this earth and share Him with others.  Can we give these earthly days back to Him that He may conform us to the image of Christ?  Can we not sacrifice a few days here in light of the glorious eternity that awaits us?

Oh Lord, I don’t want to be a fair weather disciple, only serving You when the path is smooth.  For each day is a gift from Your hand, whether it brings gladness or difficulty.

Although I may not always be able to rejoice over the day, I can rejoice in it.  I am learning that Jesus Christ is sufficient to make the heart glad at all times.

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