1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

HAGGAI - Light My Fire!


You want me to do what, Lord?!

Ever feel like God has called you to do something for which you feel woefully ill-equipped and inadequate? Do you feel daunted and overwhelmed? Does your courage disappear and your determination melt?

Sometimes we look at the things God asks us to do and we say within ourselves, "I can’t."

Sometimes He calls us to do something a ministry, speaking to an unbeliever, go on a mission, give more time and money to His work, lead a Bible Study or small group. Sometimes He asks us to feel something forgiveness for someone, love for an enemy, courage to face a trial, trust in His timing and His ways. Sometimes He pushes us to think in a new wayturning our backs on the values of the world, letting go of pursuing wealth or security, refusing to live in a me-centered way.

Whatever it is – have you ever felt like what God was asking you to do was downright impossible?

A long time ago, about 25 centuries to be exact, a voice was heard – Haggai. He knew what was important and what had to be done, and he challenged God's people to respond.

Haggai was the first of the postexilic prophets. In 586 BC, the armies of Babylon had destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and taken the Israelites captive. In 538 BC, King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the Jews could return to their city and rebuild the Temple.

Oh, they began the work – but opposition and apathy brought things to a standstill. (Ezra 4:4-5)

Haggai called them into action.

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is in two parts. First of all, listen to Haggai's exhortation:

"This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what's happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD." (Haggai 1:7)

At this time, Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and Jeshua, the high priest, were key leaders in rebuilding the Temple. They had succeeded in rebuilding the altar, but the work on the Temple itself had slowed.

So, through the words of Haggai, the call has been issued – God has "laid the gauntlet down" so to speak.

What was the response of the people?

"Then Zerubbabel…and Jeshua…and the whole remnant of God's people began to obey the message from the LORD their God…So the LORD sparked the enthusiasm of Zerubbabel…and the enthusiasm of Jeshua…and the enthusiasm of the whole remnant of God's people. They began to work on the house of their God, the LORD of Heaven's Armies…" (Haggai 1:12, 14)

I find this passage so very interesting.

I love how it says the people *began* to obey. Sometimes it's that very first step that's the hardest, isn't it? Are you like me – looking at the WHOLE thing that God has called me to do – and stopping dead in my tracks because it's JUST. TOO. BIG.

God asks for one simple step forward in obedience.

Just walk forward.

He promises to be a lamp to our feet, and a light for our path. Sometimes that path is lit up just one step at a time. That's OK, just start walking…

That’s the response of the people.

What was God's response?


God sparked the enthusiasm of the people! HE provided the spiritual impetus, and emotional courage, and physical strength to begin the work! HE responded to their obedience with His power.

I am reminded of this verse: "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." (Philippians 2:13)

Yes, God will work in our hearts if we let Him. He will change our desires, and infuse us with His power.

He will be with us – never asking us to do something that He will not enable us to do.

The Israelites began their rebuilding on September 21. On October 17, the LORD sent another message. Listen to it carefully, because He's saying it to us, too:

"Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you…My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised…So do not be afraid." (Haggai 2:4-5)

I am claiming these verses for a particular trial that our family is facing right now. God is calling me to rebuild a stronger faith. I feel woefully ill-equipped and inadequatedaunted and overwhelmed. My courage has disappeared and my determination has melted.

The task of trusting Him seems JUST. TOO. BIG.

However, I will begin to obey. I will take that one, small, *mustard seed* step of faith forward. And I will trust that God will light the path for me – one step at a time.

He will spark my enthusiasm. He will give me the desire and the power to please Him. He will help me be strong.

His Spirit will remain within me – and I will NOT be afraid.

How about you? Do you have any "Temple building" that God's calling you to do? What will be YOUR response?

(Linked today with Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Soaking On SONday. Please feel free to hop on over to my other blog during the week - Sharon Sharing God)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

PSALMS - Wait A Second...Or More

Ever notice how much time we spend in our lives waiting?

I live in Southern California – and let me tell you, I know a thing or two about waiting…

Last weekend, the 405 freeway was shut down – for the WHOLE weekend. Now, unless you live in California, this isn't going to make a lot of sense. But, let me clarify for you – the 405 is considered the busiest freeway in the nation, handling over a half-million cars a day (that’s 500,000 folks!). So, this shut-down made national news.

It was (not so) lovingly nicknamed "Carmageddon."

Traffic in Southern California is a major source of waiting.

But think about it – what about waiting for a table in a restaurant, waiting in line at the bank, waiting in a doctor's office, waiting in a drive-thru fast food place, waiting for a tax refund…you can fill in this list with your own stuff – I just know you can!

This waiting can be annoying, exasperating, frustrating…

But it's still part of normal life.

But what about the *other waiting* – the waiting for test results from the doctor, waiting for someone to land safely while flying, waiting for someone to call, waiting in a waiting room…you can fill in THIS list with your own stuff, too…

The waiting that is torture, fearful, nerve-wracking, draining.

It is the soulful waiting – the waiting that challenges our faith. That causes us to question and doubt. That makes us look to God in agony.

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" landed me in Psalms again. I guess God has some more to say to me through the words of David:

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge." (Psalms 62:5-8)

These words of David were written during the days of Absalom’s rebellion (see 2 Samuel 15-18) – a time when David once again found himself literally running for his life.

In a time of plenty and peace, these words would have been comforting and sweet. In a time when one's life is in danger, they are powerful and courageous. These are not the sweet sentiments of a man "having a good day!" These are a war cry – a pure statement of unshakeable faith in a God who is able…

We have to place ALL hope in God.

Knowing that He is in control allows us to wait patiently for Him to rescue us.

However, true relief does not come when the problem is resolved – because more problems are right around the corner – that's life. And sometimes God does not resolve a problem the way we want – nor does He always "rescue" us from difficulties, suffering, and pain.

What to do then?

Trust – trust, trust.

Only in trusting in our Rock and our Salvation can we change our outlook on life. True relief comes from an enduring hope in God’s ultimate salvation – the eternal rescue that we confidently look toward.

Only then will all things be resolved.

And how are we to wait?

Grumbling, doubting, fearing, complaining, whining??

No, we are to wait quietly before the Lord - with ALL that we are. To me, that means - a quiet mind, with thoughts under control, not running rampant - a quiet spirit, with a peaceful acceptance of circumstances - a quiet heart, with confidence in the future, whether here on earth or in eternity -

Let ALL that I am wait quietly...

In the meantime, when we rest in God’s strength, NOTHING can shake us!

Fill in this blank with your own sentiment:

When I am ____________________, I will WAIT upon the LORD.

(Linked today with Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Soaking On SONday. Please feel free to hop on over to my other blog during the week - Sharon Sharing God)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

PSALMS - God Is Still On His Throne

God is still on His throne.

Do you ever forget that?

I know I do sometimes. It's a crazy world out there, and it seems like it's getting crazierevil is more evil, fear is more fearful, persecution is more persecuting…

Everything feels a little out of control.

I feel out of control.

Evidently, even if you're a man after God's own heart, you can feel this way.

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" was written by David (I will be sharing it in two parts):

"I trust in the LORD for protection.
So why do you say to me, 'Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
The wicked are stringing their bows
and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from the shadows
at those whose hearts are right.
The foundations of law and order have collapsed.
What can the righteous do?'" (Psalms 11:1-3)

David was forced to flee for his life several times. Yes, he was God's anointed king – but that didn't spare him from injustice and hatred from others. This psalm may have been written when he was being hunted by Saul (1 Samuel
18-31), or during the days of Absalom's rebellion (2 Samuel 15-18).

In both instances, David did run away – but he didn't run as if all was lost.

In the first part of this psalm, David seems to be speaking to those who are advising him to run from his enemies. His advisors were focused on the frightening circumstances and crumbling foundations.

David was focused on God.

Hear his response:

"But the LORD is in his holy Temple;
the LORD still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
examining every person on earth…
The virtuous will see his face." (Psalms 11:4, 7)

David had faith – faith in a God whom he knew was greater than anything his enemies could bring against him.

David knew God was in control.

Still in His Temple – still ruling from Heaven.

Faith in God keeps us from losing hope – and it helps us resist fear.

God is not diminished by ANY turn of events.

NOTHING catches Him by surprise. NOTHING happens without His knowledge and His permission.

That, my friends, consoles me greatly.

It's true that this crazy old world is getting crazier. And believers will not be shielded from difficult circumstances. God's Word tells us that this will be so. But God's Word also tells us how to deal with it.

When the foundations are shaking and you want to run away and hide – run to God.

OK, the wicked might be stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They might be taking potshots at us from the shadows. Even the foundations of law and order might be collapsing (watched the news lately??)…

Fear not.

I have a feeling that God is still sitting on His throne a throne that He told us we can approach BOLDLY!

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."
(Hebrews 4:16)

God's rule provides stability in the midst of panic. And, because we trust Him, we can face our problems.

David knew it – and so can we.

God is still on His throne…

And we will see His face!

(Linked today with Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Soaking On SONday. Please feel free to hop on over to my other blog during the week - Sharon Sharing God)

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

DEUTERONOMY - It's Scary Out There!

"It’s scary out there!"

Ever felt that way?

Picture yourself with Moses and the Israelites. Here they are at the edge of the Promised Land. They have been successfully and miraculously rescued from slavery in Egypt, and led through the great and terrifying wilderness. God has been with them every step of the way.

God has proven faithful.

And yet, Moses decides to send out scouts.

I don't think this was his original plan.

Moses had said, "You have now reached the hill country of the Amorites that the LORD our God is giving us. Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don't be afraid! Don't be discouraged!"

Plan A.

But the Israelites came to him and asked that scouts be sent out to explore the land –figuring "they will advise us on the best route to take…"

Plan B, maybe?

So, Moses sent out twelve scouts, one from each tribe. Upon their return, they reported that the land was a good land.

But…(why is it that there’s always a "but" when it comes to the Israelites?)

The people rebelled against the command of the LORD and refused to go in.

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" tells us what they said:

"'The LORD must hate us. That's why he brought us here from Egypt – to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered. Where can we go? Our brothers have demoralized us with their report. They tell us, 'The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are…We even saw giants there – the descendants of Anak!'" (Deuteronomy 1:27-28)

The people had concluded that the land was not worth the obstacles. They were afraid and decided not to enter.

Do you ever feel like that?

I sure do.

As I walk along my life's journey, God has proved Himself faithful, over and over. He's rescued me from the slavery to sin. He's led me through the wilderness. And yet, when He brings me to the brink of a breakthrough, a growth period, a time of testing – I balk.

He promises the Promised Land – and He promises to help me conquer it.

But…(why is it that there's always a "but" when it comes to me?)

I stop, I look around, I get scared – I only see the obstacles – I focus on the difficulty and the fear – and I do not go in.

God gives us the power to overcome our obstacles, but all too often we let difficulties control our lives. We become fearful and immobile when we focus on the negative aspects of a situation.

"It's scary out there."

Moses had quite a comeback for the Israelites. I hear him saying it to me:

"'Don't be shocked or afraid of them! The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you…you saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.'" (verses 29-31)

This is what I forget.

God has gone before me – and He will guide me every step of the way.

I am not facing anything in my life by accident. Whenever I come up against "scary new territory" I must remember this – God has brought me to this place.

He is on my side.

I can trust His direction and His promises. I can rely on His presence and power.

Fear does not need to rob me of the victory.

I must move out in faith – courageous, overcoming faith.

And God will provide even that…

Are there any "giants of Anak" in your life?

(Linked today with Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Soaking On SONday. Please feel free to hop on over to my other blog during the week - Sharon Sharing God)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

EZEKIEL - Let Freedom Ring!




This was the painful state of affairs for the Israelites. Overcome by the Babylonians, they had been led away from their precious land, and into virtual slavery under a foreign and oppressive ruler, Nebuchadnezzar (the Biblical account can be found in 2 Kings 24:8-25:30).

Their story isn't one of conquering freedom, or resounding independence.

It's just the opposite.

And yet, into this despairing and seemingly hopeless situation, God raised up a messenger – his chosen prophet, Ezekiel.

Ezekiel gave God's message of judgment on Israel and other nations to the captives in Babylon. And yet, he also brought God's message of hope, salvation, and future restoration. Ezekiel painted a vivid picture of the unchangeable holiness of God.

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is an excerpt of that uplifting message:

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'The people of Israel will again live in their own land, the land I gave my servant Jacob. For I will gather them from the distant lands where I have scattered them. I will reveal to the nations of the world my holiness among my people. They will live safely…they will know that I am the LORD their God.'" (Ezekiel 28:25-26)

There was partial fulfillment of this promise when many Israelites were allowed to return from exile under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. And then, in 1948, the political nation of Israel was re-established as they gained their independence.

However, this promise will have its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus Christ returns to set up His eternal Kingdom. Then, all people who have been faithful to God will dwell together in harmony and complete safety.

These passages brought many thoughts to ponder on the eve of America's Independence Day.

What is the state of our nation?

Are we individually, and as a country, being faithful to God? Are we trusting Him to lead us, to be our moral and spiritual compass?

Are we truly a people, a nation UNDER GOD?

Sometimes we take our freedom for granted. We forget that it was purchased at a great price. Many people have sacrificed their very lives for the privilege of living in a country that declares itself the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

Are we in danger of being blind like the Israelites?

I asked before – what is the state of our nation? But, the more important question is this –

What is the state of our hearts?

Our personal, spiritual, soul salvation was purchased at a great price. There is One who sacrificed His very life for us – to give us the privilege of living in a state of freedom from the slavery to sin.

Are we excusing ourselves from our responsibilities before God? Are we being accountable to God for our choices?

Are we being faithful to the Faithful One?

All of God's promises will be ultimately fulfilled under the rule of the Messiah. He will reveal Himself to the nations of the world. He will gather His faithful ones, the ones He has redeemed, from distant lands. And we will live safely in His glorious presence forever restored to perfect fellowship with Him.

And every knee shall bow, every tongue confess – He is the LORD, the Almighty God.

Let us never take our freedom for granted – and may we take the occasion of Independence Day to once again focus on the values that make America a country that honors "liberty and justice for all."

But let's also examine our hearts – and single-mindedly pursue the One who possesses unchangeable holiness.

Let us re-gain a vision of His glory, a fresh sense of His greatness, and a renewed spirit of devotion and love for Him.

"For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again…Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away…And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart, and give you a tender, responsive heart." (Ezekiel 36:24-26)

(Linked today with Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Soaking On SONday. Please feel free to hop on over to my other blog during the week - Sharon Sharing God)

"When in doubt, search God out!"