Friday, October 28, 2011

Priests and The Law

OK, so for the past couple of days I have been reading in Hebrews about the priesthood and the Aaronic/Levitical line and the line of Melchizedek.  I must admit I was totally lost without the sub notes in my Study Bible. 

At first glance of the section titles I thought, "Seriously, what am I going to get from this priest stuff, Lord?"  And even after a few readings and a couple of days I still am not completely sure.  But, at least now I am starting to figure it out a bit and gleaning some bit of wisdom out of it so that I can feel good about moving on.

The Mosaic law, of course, was tragically flawed.  Not by God, but in the fact that there is no way any of us flawed human beings ever could have followed it well enough to be forgiven.  My sub notes say "The law is holy and good (Rom 7:12) but it is not able to make right those who sin by breaking it, nor can it give the power necessary to fulfill its demands.  How true that is.

So, no one from the line of Aaron could fulfill God's promise in completing his oath.  Thus, one from the line of Melchizedek did, and that, of course, is Jesus.

I am not sure if I have still made complete sense out of it, but I do get the fact that I am very thankful to be under the new covenant instead of the old one.  Only Jesus can get us there.  He is the new covenant.  He can make us right after we sin.

The other thing I love about the new covenant is the ability to approach God on my own.  I can go straight to Him and not have to pass through any priest to confess my sins, bear my soul and beg forgiveness.  He is right there.  Always. 

Lord, I am speechless at your love.  You have given me the easy way out.  While this life may not always be easy and choices may not always be easy, you have provided me with an easy button.  Your Son.  I am so thankful for that.  So thankful for your new covenant with me and anyone else who will accept you in his/her heart.  As I keep reading in this section, help me to see what you would have me learn.  Open my eyes to your Word and love.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God's Promises

This is yesterday's post I didn't get finished until now...
Numbers 23:19: God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

God's promises are all throughout the Bible.  We find them from the first promise of offspring to Moses, to the promise land to promising His return.  It is so good to know we can always count on something.  God, never lies, He never lets us down and He is always there. 

Why do I always seem to forget this?  Why, when things aren't going my way, do I think God is working against me?

OK, so I know the following story isn't a life-altering, majorly dramatic life event, but it is so often times the little things that trip me up more than the big ones.  Maybe that is because, while I have had my fair share of 'events',  I haven't had a ton of big ones to deal with.  Of which I am very thankful.

Anyway, just earlier today, I pulled the whole, "Why, God?" thing.  I had just gotten all four children in my house asleep.  It had been one of those mornings, followed by an even worse night.  I had gone to bed at 9:15 with a horrid migraine, got woken up (to find out I still had a bad headache) at 2 a.m. by my son with growing pains and the alarm went off way too early.  That morning had consisted of rushing the kids out the door to the bus and realizing they hadn't brushed their teeth, a toddler screaming at me most of the morning, a fussy baby and a defiant almost two-year-old who required 4 spankings before 11 a.m.  So, at 1:15 when I finally got all of them laid down I was ready to curl up on the couch with a blanket and my Bible, read and hopefully fall asleep myself.  God had another plan that I didn't appreciate at that moment.  The baby woke up literally as soon as I plumped my rump down on the couch.  Ahhhhh!

Now, I don't know if I specifically gained anything from that moment, but I did as God, "Why?"  Why can't I just get a little rest.  I was going to spend time with you.  Why would you interrupt that? 

Then, guess what I read later, after I got the baby settle down enough to play on his own so I could read.  Yep.  God's promises.  Which in turn remind me that He is the only One who will never let me down.  I need to find rest in His promise of eternal rest and seek to find what He has to teach me in finding strength in Him rather than on my own. 

I think this kind of goes back to I'll Sleep When I'm Dead as well.  Wasn't it one of God's promises? 

Heb. 6:18-19a God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us my be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 

God, remind me to trust in your promises and not my selfish desires.  Thank you that you never change, you never lie and your promises are always completed in your own time.  Help me to have complete faith in your plan for even the little things in my life, like naps. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

God Remembers

In today's day and age it is so easy to get caught up in recognition.  It is so tempting to 'toot your own horn' or want others to praise you for your efforts.  Heck, it is nice to be acknowledged for what you have done.  And, really, there isn't anything wrong with it.

The 'wrong' part comes when you do it only for the recognition, for the horn tooting and when you fail to acknowledge God's hand in what has been done.

Hebrews 6:10 tells us that God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  This is such a great verse to hide in your heart for all those times you feel like your work has gone without thanks.  This is especially a great verse for mothers to keep on hand.  It is very rare that the thank yous are handed out to moms sufficiently. 

Yet, when I stop and think about this even more, I stop myself.  Why should God have to thank me?  Why should He have to reward or recognize the work I have done?  I don't deserve any thanks or rewards compared to what He has done for me.  So, on days where I feel like all the work I do is in vain, I need to stop and think about all the work He does that goes unrecognized, un-thanked and definitely unrewarded by our thoughts, words and deeds. 

But it is so nice to know that we do not labor in vain.  God does know everything we do for His glory and He will thank us for it someday.  So, We do not want to become lazy; but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Heb. 6:12)

Father, please forgive me when I whine about being an unappreciated mother, friend or worker.  Help me to see that I do not do the work for my glory, but for yours; that I need to stop and thank you for your work in every situation instead of wanting the thanks myself.  Thank you that you do see my work and that I can know you will reward me for it someday, even so undeservedly.  Help me to keep up the good work for you and not grow lazy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Little Bit Slow

Oh how often do I feel like I need to be 'held back a grade' when it comes to studying God's Word.  So many times I could feel like the author of Hebrews is talking to me when he says, "it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn." in 5:11. 

By this time, I should be a teacher, but still so often need someone to teach me the elementary truths of God's Word all over again.  Why does it take so long to sink in?  Why do I sit and read and feel like it all just flew right over my head?  Is it just a waste of my time?

All these questions usually plague me down, but I have found that the old adage really is true.  (Funny how all of those old adages that stick around for all that time really do seem to be true.)  Practice makes perfect.  Now, I will never be perfect this side of heaven, but filling myself with the Word of God every day can help me understand His perfect Son and how He lived and how I can try to model my life like His.

Thankfully, I have found that practice does make perfect, even when it comes to reading my Bible and letting the Holy Spirit teach me the elementary truths of God's Word.  I have found the more time I spend in it, the more time I pray about it and the more time I take to sit and process it, the more I learn and understand what God and the Holy Spirit are trying to teach me.  I have fewer and fewer days where I feel like the words I just read flew right over my head with every time I take the chance to read and study His word.

I must also confess that another great resource for me in learning how to more effectively study the Bible on my own was the book A Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker.  This hilarious author offers up real truths and practical ways of learning how to get more from your time in the Bible.  I highly recommend it!

Father, please forgive me for being so slow.  As long as I have known you, I should be a teacher of your truths, but so often I feel like I am still an infant.  Help me to learn all that I can from my time with you and also to be able to retain it so that I can use it in the future.  Your Word is so good for me and my life, again, help me desire to be in it each and every day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Obedience Through Suffering

It is learning the hard way.  If it hurts enough, you'll know better than to do it again.  Just like discipline.  Learning obedience through suffering, I guess, is discipline.  Although, in this passage of Hebrews the author speaks of Jesus' obedience and suffering, and Jesus never had to be disciplined for His sin, but took a terrible suffering for ours.

Obedience through suffering.  It is how God teaches.  Where Jesus faces the same temptations that we do, he prevailed, but I seem to fail over and over and God instructs and disciplines me through it.  It may be something small, the equivalent to a little smack on the hand and it may be much bigger.  We all need to learn, to be disciplined.  If only I learned a little bit quicker.  If only once were enough.  It is just so easy to give in and deal with the rest later.  That is, until later comes and you're stuck dealing with it even if 'it' is just a heavy conscience for knowing you were wrong.

That is where time with God helps.  You come to recognize what He is telling you a bit easier.  Those Bible verses you read last week pop into your head and give you the wisdom you need to out-smart the situation, or maybe just make the smart decision.  Oh, how often all it comes down to is spending time with Him.  What an easy answer, but why do I have to make it so hard?

Father, I thank you that you discipline me to teach me your ways.  I pray that I would listen to your Word and thirst for it every day so that I learn obedience.  Help me see how stubborn I can be and trust in the fact that you always know best and have a plan in place to prosper me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Confidence defines confidence as full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.  Confidence is something I am fairly fickle about.  It totally depends on the group of people I am with or in and the role I am playing.

Put me in a room a people in a formal setting and tell me to lead and my confidence is under the table.  Put me in a small group of good friends and my confidence is just great. 

Put me singing alone in front of people and my confidence is shaking along with my voice.  Put me singing in a role as a character and my confidence is at a fairly decent level and steady. 

Put me in a group of people I feel pretty even-keeled with and my confidence is normal.  Put me in a group that I really want to fit into or of girls that I think are 'way more cool' than I am and my confidence is totally fake.

As you can see confidence is only mine when I am totally comfortable with the situation.  So, when the author of Hebrews tells us in 4:16 to approach the throne of grace with confidence it makes me wonder.

Approaching a throne is not something that I see as an easy and comfortable task.  Yet, as it says, we approach the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Such a throne should be comfortable to approach.

It made me stop and think about how confident I am, not only in myself, but in Jesus.  Sadly, I would have to admit that this confidence waivers upon the group of people and situation I am in as well.  Geesh!  This is pretty convicting. 

The first thing that comes to my mind is a great night I had out with some girlfriends recently.  We went to a great restaurant for a friend's birthday and just before we ate, God really put it on my heart to say grace.  This is something I have been trying to do better with (praying before all my meals), whether at home on my counter, sitting with my family at the table, at a fast food restaurant or nice sit down joint.  Anyway, I digress. 

The thought was sent to me and I sat and debated for a couple of seconds whether to just do it quietly to myself or offer to pray for the group.  Now, this was a group of friends who were all Christians so it was not a huge deal.  I can promise you if I would have had this thought with another group of friends, I would have squished it as soon as it fluttered through my head.  Sad, I know.  Thankfully, God gave me the confidence and the words to pray for all of us and we had a wonderful meal and evening.

So, God has now placed it on my heart to be better in my confidence in Him in all situations, and when the confidence isn't feeling to strong, to come to Him in full confidence and ask Him to grant it to me. 

Father, I know how fickle I can be.  I waiver back and forth in so many things when it comes to you.  My time with you, my prayers to you, my confidence in you.  Help me in all of these areas to remember that time and prayer with you helps me deepen my relationship with you and renews my strength.  Help me have confidence in you and through you in all situations.  Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Into the Depths

"The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

I love this verse.  It is such a good one to counteract those that believe God's Word is outdated.  They think that so many principles of the Bible don't apply to them anymore because it was such another place and time. 

Hello?  Ever read the Old Testament?  I stop and think of how corrupted this world is today.  Sex isn't something held in high regard for husband and wife, it is a form of entertainment.  Violence is unbelievably horrid.  Families are broken.  War is among us.  The list could go on and on.  But if you read through the old testament and even some things mentioned in the New Testament, you can see that all of these things were present then as well. 

They may have been in another form and not exploited by every form of media we have today, but they were there.  God's Word is alive and applicable to all of us. 

This verse even tells us it is sharp and can penetrate to the depths of our soul.  God's Word is meant to touch our hearts.  That is what He wants it to do.  God wants us to take His Word in our hearts, have a conversation with Him and apply what He teaches us to our lives.  Today.

Do you let God's Word pierce through you and judge your thoughts?  I think in this passage a double-edged sword is meant to be a good thing.  It is meant to get through our thick skulls and tough skin and get into our hearts and minds and souls.

Father, help me apply your Word to my life today.  Get it through my tough exterior and into the softness of my soul.  Give me your wisdom through the Holy Spirit.  Grant me the use of this wisdom to share with others who might think that the gift you left us in the Bible is dead.  To show them that it is very much alive and true.  I thank you for that gift and the instructions and reassurance left in it.  Help me find peace, comfort, guidance and life-application in it daily as I seek time with you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Oh, this saying makes me smile every time I think of it.  It is something I often hear from my husband.  I usually just chuckle at it and move on, but my reading today in Hebrews 4: 1-5 gave me an entirely different perspective on a verse my husband often teases me with.

In this passage author of Hebrews reminds us of the rest promised by God.  My Study Bible tells me the original promise of rest was a physical promise of rest given to the Isrealites under Moses and finally granted under Joshua in Canaan.  The promise of the rest was only gained through faith in God and His promise. 

Obviously, here the 'rest' referred to is eternal rest in Christ.  Again, a rest only gained through faith.  So, it seems my intelligent husband is correct once again. (I knew I married that handsome man for so many reasons!)  I will get to 'sleep' when I am dead.  Even though we might have to exchange a few words in this phrase to make it fully true.  It might be a bit more applicable if it were to say, "I will get to rest when I am in heaven." 

What a great thing to remember.  On those days where I feel like I have so much to get done that I want to skip my quiet time with God, those days where my list seems a mile long but I want nothing more than to lay my head on a pillow and not wake up until the next morning.  Reminding myself that God will give me the strength I need to make it through the day and reward me with eternal rest for my faithfulness, will surely get me through.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not be faint.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Father, I thank you that you grant me rest.  I thank you that I can find the strength I need to get me through those days where all I want to do is rest.  You are so good to me, God.  Your promises are always true and I can have eternal rest in you.  Help me remember that you will renew my strength if only I place my hope in you and that hope comes from spending time with you.  Remind me that it is this time with you where my strength is built up for the times I need it most.  I pray for all those that do not have your strength.  Give me the opportunity to share it with them and the good news that they too can have it themselves. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Real Fairy Tale

In my women's Bible study at my church our lesson for this week focused on Esther.  I have always loved this story.  A real-life picture of a fairy tale.  A poor orphan girl who had nothing and was changed into a princess.  Perfect.

Now this is the real princess I want my girls to adore.  Sure, all of those Disney princess stories tell good tales of a beautiful girl on a good task, but Esther was on a task for God.  She followed through for His plan.  What a woman to teach your girls to live up to. 

Esther went through some pretty scary things.  She had to hide her identity in order to survive in the castle.  She had to stand up to a man with a well-known temper.  She risked it all.  For her people and for her God. 

Why have I not found a princess story version of this?  I bet I might be able to if I tried!

Blogging Block

Well, it has been a while since I have posted anything on here.  Not for lack of trying or doing my devotions/quiet times thankfully, but for lack of thinking I had much to write about. 

What I seemed to have forgotten was that the main reason I started this little blog was to use it as a converstation/thought starter for my quiet times, not as a way to impress my entire 3 to maybe 5 readers.  I have felt lately that I haven't had anything worthwhile to put on here.  But God really put it on my heart that when I don't journal in some way shape or form, I am missing out on some great conversations with Him. 

If I merely read His Word and say my general prayers, I am really skipping the part where I think through and process what He is trying to tell me in my time with Him.  I am just simply, doing my job and moving on, but not taking the time to reflect and talk with Him about it.  He reminded me that I started doing this as a discussion with Him, not with someone who might be reading it.

I seem to think and type well at the same time.  I can type faster than I can write, so I tend to forget fewer of my thoughts and can follow them through...thus, typing a blog for a journal has worked great for me.  That is, until I let my head get in the way of my heart.  I wanted to impress a reader instead of spend my time with God.

Time to get back to the basics a great conversation with my God and the Holy Spirit.  Sorry if it isn't very impressive or entertaining to really don't have to read it if you don't want to.  Like I said, this is for me, not you.  A bit selfish maybe, but you aren't the one I am trying to please. ;)