Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The first is in creation. If you're not familiar with the sights of Lake Stevens, WA let me explain them to you a little bit. The town is surrounded by mountains. None of them are super close, like in the backyard, but some are within just a short drive and on most days it is possible to see Mount Ranier to the South and Mount Baker, I think to the North. They stand out because they are both massive, snow covered mountains but even closer than both of them are a bunch of other mountains that create a backdrop to the town which is known fo the lake that people find much time to relax on and enjoy during the few summertime days out here. The area is gorgeous, but what really struck me as awesome was when I was walking the other night. I went out the front door turned right and began walking down the hill I live on. In the distance I saw some gorgeous mountains. I got to the bottom of the hill and turned right again. Through the trees about a half a mile away I saw a beautiful view of the lake. Both wowed me. As I met up with a couple of people we continued on toward the lake and as we began to walk beside it we turned a corner and their was a full moon coming up just over the mountains. It was absolutely awesome. Needless to say seeing those things that night and the view I had of the Puget Sound at a park yesterday and just kind of left me on awe of who this awesome Creator-God is that loves us so much.
The second way that God has been answering that prayer has been through other people. I have been praying some pretty specific prayers about things going on in my life and God has been answering those prayers through the words of those around me.
The third way that God has answered that prayer is through His Word. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "Duh, of course He reveals Himself to us in His Word," but I have just kind of been reminded of how the Scriptures reveal to us who God is and as we study them we get to know Him better. It has been good for me to read them and to be filled with the truth.
All of this to say what? That God is awesome and faithful to answer our prayers. Yes, certainly, but as I've thought about how God has answered my prayer I am reminded of two things. One, that He wants us to know who He is, and two, that when we pray according to His will our prayers will be answered and we will receive that which we are seeking.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
"You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from the its remotest parts
And said to you, 'You are My servant,
I have chosen you and not rejected you.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Have you ever had one of those moments where you cry out to God to give you something, anything to hold on to to help you stay afloat? Well this is one of those nuggets God used to remind me of His promise and His faithfulness. I have clung so tightly to it ever since. I thought He was taking away everything that I He ever gave me; every opportunity, every desire, every change of heart.
Recently, I have been struck down with an illness that the doctors cannot understand or fix. It has taken me away from the beautiful mountains and opportunities in Arizona to the green lands and family filled Wisconsin. At first, being bedridden was a blessing, a time to rest and refresh my body from lost sleep. But now, knowing that it may be a long while before I can go back to doing what I love, it is as if my heart has been broken into a million little pieces. I don't understand why. This was definitely not part of my plans.
However, God has graciously turned away those selfish thoughts, and brought closer to my heart His promises. He knows the plans He has for me - He intends them for good, and through them He gives me a future I can't even imagine, and He gives me a stronger hope. He has given me every blessing - I am thankful for every moment of them.
God is able to do far more than I can imagine, and He does it in ways I don't necessarily understand. But He is not distant...He is with me, and that is all I need. He comforts, He loves, He carries.
Though this small portion of my life seems unfair and I don't understand it, God has given me a peace about it and a reason to keep persevering every day. He has turned my focus back on Him, rather than what I was doing. My life was becoming my god rather than the reason that I live.
Because of Him, I can say "The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." I pray that as the Body of Christ we would never loose sight of His promises, for they are O so precious!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
"For You light my lamp;
The LORD my God illumines my darkness"
I will never forget an illustration I heard in a sermon once a few months ago. The pastor was remarking how darkness never covers up light, but light always covers up darkness. Take for instance a closet. When you open the door of your bedroom closet, which doesn't have a light, the bedroom doesn't get dark, but the closet does get light.
The illustration, of coarse, goes along with the fact that God is light, and darkness is light to Him. Just think and marvel on that simple, but yet powerful character of God. How does He bring light to your darkness, and to those around you?
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
This was the song my four year old nanny girls were singing while reading a book last week. They have a story called "A Squirrel's Tale" with a squirrel that slides through slots in the pages all the way to the end, when it reaches it's home. I had asked them where the squirrel was going and how it got there, but they only answered with this little jingle. Looking at the book I noticed there were many pages that took the squirrel through some sticky situations and a handful of nice ones as well, but the girls were only interested in the end result.
This was a clear picture to me of how our lives should look. As the girls were focused on getting home, we too should have a mindset that only strives for our true home with the Lord. Matthew 6:19-21 says, "Do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". If we are chosing to invest our time, energy, and resources on the present, we will be in a for a shock when everything we have gained in this world is left behind. I once heard a joke that a man pleaded with God to bring a suitcase to heaven with him and God allowed him, so he sold all of his possessions and packed pure gold. When he got to the gates of heaven he was asked to show what he brought and the angels asked themselves why he brought pavement. Nothing on this earth will be of any importance when we get to heaven!
Colossians 3 says "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth". Are you living for the moment and chosing to focus on what you can get here? Or are you like the squirrel and keeping your eye on the end prize?
In Matthew 6:33 it says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." When we are actively pursuing God and striving towards heaven as our finish line, nothing on earth will matter. All of the sticky situations that the squirrel encountered only made being home all the sweeter! How much more will heaven be for us?
One of my favorite hymns is "When We See Christ". The chorus goes as such: It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase. So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
What is your goal right now? To be promoted in work? To achieve a 4.0 GPA? To get married to the hunk next door? Or is it to run the race to Christ with all of your might?
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Last week in our youth group girl's Bible study we spent some time discussing what some of our greatest temptations are. I shared that one of my greatest struggles are my words: careless words, unkind words, words of gossip... It's a temptation I have to continually be aware of, safe guard myself from and when I fail ask forgiveness for. But with our words is a deeper root issue, an attitude of the heart. Our words are the fruit of our hearts.
Jesus addressed this issue very seriously in Matthew 12:33-37.
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”As the meditation of my heart is upon the Word of God, the words out of my mouth become much more pleasing to the Lord.
I want to share this devotional "The Blogger's Prayer" from Planet Wisdom today because the author hit it right on the mark.
I was challenged after our Bible study last week to memorize more scripture. My first verse to memorize is Romans 10:17 "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." I want God's Word to be what is continually in my mind and heart. When I go to speak I want His Word to be what flows out of me.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Enough about the bus though, which I thoroughly enjoy being on by the way. I would just like to briefly touch on the subject of heaven. Not so much when are we going to get there, for God only knows that day and hour, :) but how awesome it is going to be when we do get there. We were created for a Paradise, and for those of us who know Christ, who have been born again, we have been given the hope of Heaven. (side note: as I am writing this I am listening to the music on my iPod in shuffle mode and the song "Way To the Father" by the Harvest Worship Band came on, which is a song about Christ being the only way to the Father and those who know the truth having the hope of heaven. It's a sweet song; you should check it out of you can.). My former pastor just recently began a series of sermons on the topic of heaven and I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. I am saddened by the fact that I will no longer be able to hear anymore of them. One thing I am glad that he mentioned is that this is a literal place that we will go to and that we are going to be having an eternal wedding feast. What exactly does that mean? I don't know, but it sure sounds cool.
I really don't have much to say, but the thought of one day going to heaven can be such an encouragement to us I am hoping that you can be encouraged this day, knowing that if you are in Christ, you have the hope of one day going to Heaven, and it's going to be awesome.
Check it out:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
6 And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed-
13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls.
16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal.
17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement.
18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass.
19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,
20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,
25 and its gates will never be shut by day-and there will be no night there.
26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Sorry, after a two week and one day hiatus - the Shada shootout (a 3 on 3 basketball tourney in Pelican Rapids) made me forget about posting... - I return with good news and great joy; because my team did all right haha, and last weekend I was out of town and had zero internet/phone service ... But anyway, thinking on the sports theme... One thing I've always been taught in sports is "never give up, never surrender." Yes, that's also a line from Galaxy Quest, which, head hung, I admit I've watched, but it is drilled into athletes of all ages. It applies to both the training and competing aspects of sports. Athletics also come into scripture - again with that magical never give up theme - for example Hebrews 1:1 (Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.) While it's great to have success on Earth, be it in sports/school/career/etc., it's far more important that we have success in the "race" that matters, the race to Heaven, if you will. As is written in the book of Acts: "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace;" we need to focus on the task God has laid out for us.
Until next week, Matt
Friday, July 2, 2010
I have never in my life been more thankful of the Character of comfort in God - whether that be by consolation or encouragement. But as it seems to be, we never truly understand each of His characters until we experience them in our own lives. Then He becomes more personal, and we know Him more. God comforts us in all times, especially the difficult ones. But He can't comfort us if we don't give our cares, our anxieties, our thoughts, or worries to Him. Sure we can hold on to them, but what good does that do? We can't make them go away. We can't take care of them. Only God can.
He has really impressed on me the need to let go of everything, especially my thoughts, needs, concerns, health, sins…and not just things that are affecting me right now, but everything in my life. I have noticed that when I hold on to things tightly, I clasp on to them right over my heart. And when I do that, I am not letting God into my heart to rid me of myself and become more like Him, let alone let Him take care of me. I can't become more like Him when I hold on to myself, which is the very thing that I need to get rid of.
When I let go on my own there usually are strings attached, and pretty soon I am clasping it in my hands again. But I am thankful that God gives me the strength to let go, comforts me in that time, and draws me closer to Him, which is exactly where I want and need to be.
When we give our most prized possessions, more valued thoughts, He takes care of them! He is the amazing I AM, He is everything that we need! Look at what He has done in your life, and know that He will continue to work a good work in you. As life goes on, He wraps His arms of love around us, and comforts us. And as we go though life, we are able to help others going through afflictions, but we need to keep our eyes open for them, for they may not come to us...
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (Amplified Bible)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.