Judges

And this is the other half of doing what God wants.  Not only do we need to follow His rules, but we are not to make distinctions with others.  Man, this is hard.  I fully admit, I get critical of people who do not live up to what they say they are going to do, of not living up to those top ten rules.  Drives me crazy.  I like most people, the ones I don’t tend to be self-serving.

But it is not my call.

It is God’s.

He says I still need to do what He asks…and that is:  don’t judge, treat them the same.  Even when I want to judge the heck out of them.

If I want people not to judge me, I can’t judge them.  Right?

Isn’t that what God says and wants?  What we want?

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1

Ephesians

I can’t say it better than God himself…I love the Message version of this passage:

1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

3-4 Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.

6-7 Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.

8-10 You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

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No add-ons

At the restaurant of God there are no add-ons, no a la carte for what He wants from us.  He made this clear to the Israelites when He gave them the 10 commandments through Moses and Aaron.  I mean the top ten are pretty clear and pretty darn good at covering everything:

That list is pretty definitive.  I can see why God commanded them not to even try adding to them and not to take away anything.  Because He worded them perfectly too.  He didn’t need to nit-pick.  He knew these simple rules would last eons.  He knew these would apply to all people, all situations.

And Jesus came to reinforce that these are the only expectations of God.  Not a bunch of rules humans decide need to be added or subtracted to define our purposes.  Nope.

What GOD ORDERS.  These are what we need to do each day.

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What God Wants

I think I heard this in a sermon…or a devotion, not sure which.  But no matter who the thought came from it is dead on.  We sure have expectations for God and we have a tendency as humans to want it now.  Sort of like a drive thru:  we pull up to the menu and speak into the little box, “Yeah, hi?  I want a serving of forgiveness…make it extra large…for that thing I did.  Put a side of {my desire} in.  Extra crispy just the way I like it.  And hmmmm, let’s see, go ahead and add this other stuff just because I don’t really care how it affects others, but it is what I want.  Yeah,  Thanks.  Free right?”  And we pull up to the next window and expect it immediately.

That is not how God works.  People look at the Bible…He makes EVERYBODY wait.  He makes sure that everyone is on page with Him first.  And most of the time He gives us what we need not what we want.

I am the first person to admit I am guilty of this.  I am sooooooo not patient.

What if the table turned.  What if Jesus pulled up to our drive thru?

“Hello child!  I am so glad to see you working!  I would love for you to spread love and encouragement today.  I think you should turn to your co-worker right now and tell them.  Yes, do it.  Oh that made me so pleased!  Okay, what do I want to order?  Oh yes, I want you to be honest.  I want you to share with others.  Just give it all away.  That’s right…just hand it out.  Hmmm, let’s see we better super size that loving thing.  Can never have too much!  That comes with the forgiveness and understanding automatically right? That is definitely what I want you to cook up child.  Okay, I will meet you at the next window, I would love for that to happen right now, but I am super patient, I will wait for you.  We have LOTS of time.”

Could we answer Him?  Could we fill His order?

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Our Conquerer

While we are in our own little space waiting for what we want, God is out there getting stuff done.  Conquerering.  Going after one heart at a time and using them to bring our deliverance, our forgiveness, our belonging.  He uses everyone born of Him…and He designed a heck of a lot of people.  That should be a lot of conquests.  That should be a winning season record.

But those transgressions get in the way.  Our neediness gets in the way.  Our unwillingness to trust and  change and listen to the whisperings of the Spirit.  Just imagine what God made us capable of!  What could you conquer in His name today?

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Refined Faith

And this is the best part of admitting our neediness, admitting our transgressions, and putting them through the fire of constant cleaning and testing–we come out on the other side refined.  With a strong faith that is developed and will carry us through the waiting.

REFINED:  with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing.  Purified, processed, treated, cultivated, cultured, polished, developed, improved in precise and subtle ways.

So many synonyms and ways to say it.  I like thinking of it as polished–just like the cleaning I wrote about yesterday.  Just like a beautiful stone or metal.  We can choose to be dull, or bright and shiny–something that entices other people, that draws them in, that is a beacon–which is exactly what God calls us to be.

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Transgressions

Do you ever feel heavy from your transgressions?  You know you aren’t doing what you should, you are slipping up constantly, and you are not doing a good job of turning it around.  It is right there in your face, right in front of you, and still you do it.  It may be something big, it may be something little.  But no matter what it is there.  Kind of like that pile of stones Jesus threw in the sea…but piled up in front of you because you can’t let Him have them yet.

But the first step is acknowledging them.  Saying it.  Jesus…I know what I did wrong.  I know I need to get back on track.  I know I am needy.  I know I need you to deliver me.  I know I am really bad at waiting.

And letting Him throw those stones in to the sea.  Let go.  Let HIM have them all.  Then we find the rest and lightness we need.

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Soul cleaning

I heard this in a sermon this spring–not sure which church.  But I liked it.  Because it is true.  Just because we are Christians–whether it has been since childhood or yesterday–does not mean we are done cleaning our souls.

Much like a house, you can do an amazing deep spring clean.  The whole thing is dust free, sparkling, smelling good, spotless.  And within a week–it needs touch ups.  A regular schedule of straightening up, taking out the clutter and garbage, and disinfecting is the best defense.

Anyone who thinks they are not the same way is wrong.  Every human needs a good cleaning outside and in every day.  We have to take a good hard look at the smudges and ask God to help us wipe them away.  Some are more stubborn and are going to need a good scrub–maybe even a soak–until that stain disappears.  This is one of the reasons I love weekly communion–especially with a really nasty wafer and wine that burns on the way down.  It is like a soul cleaning each week.  But we can do it without communion, we can do it in prayer, we can confess those transgressions daily and ask God for that deliverance every hour if we need to.

Think on your soul cleaning schedule today..does it need revision?

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Needy and waiting

Do you ever feel especially poor and needy of spirit?  Sometimes we just get worn down.

Do you ever wish God would not delay with that deliverance?  It feels like you have been waiting for eternity.  For real.  We are a needy people.  Can you imagine all the petitions to God over the centuries for deliverance? But the reality is, God has been waiting for eternity.  Can you imagine the waiting God has done for His creations to turn back to Him? To repent?  To accept His love?  To accept deliverance?  Kind of puts it in perspective doesn’t it.

Sometimes we have to wait our turn.  Our deliverance might depend on a whole domino effect of answered prayers to a whole bunch of people waiting. Sometimes we have to realize our deliverance already happened, we just have to accept it.

 

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Heart Treasures

So simply said Jesus.  Well done.

Make a list today of all of your heart treasures.  Pray over it.  Be in thanksgiving for your heart treasure.  Celebrate them.

And know that when you reach heaven they will stay with you, and yet not even be important. For the joy of the treasure in Christ will overwhelm you and fill you to bursting.  It will glow with a majesty we cannot fathom.

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Treasures

I do love me some shopping.  I love the hunt more than the stuff I bring home.  I think that is why I like garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores so much.  Because I am not super attached to most of the things in my home.  There are of course a few things.  And I do get annoyed when I break an art piece or lose a special earring from an art fair.   But, in the end, it is all just stuff.  Momentary.

And I think this verse is part of the reason why.  It has always had an impact on me.

We can enjoy the things we have, we can support artisans and designers and the retail world (we do need those jobs).  The difference is not attaching too much importance to those items.  Not worshiping them.  Not making them what defines us.

For we are defined by so much more than what we own.

 

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Dandelions

The dandelions are out in full force this spring.  We have two choices on how to deal with them:  spray the heck out of them and hope they disappear from our lawns OR embrace their gorgeous sunny yellow heads.  I took the second graders outside and showed them how to split the stem down the middle, soak it in water, and get a super tight spiral curl.  Their awe and giggling was so worth it…they ran over the lawn picking stems, looking for the longest and thickest to get the best results.  It was the best 15 minutes of my day.

We choose, don’t we, how we perceive our days?  How we look at our life.

I think this verse is telling us that we need to enjoy this life, enjoy not the material things, but all the things that fill our hearts.

I think it is reminding us that this life isn’t all there is, we have so much more to look forward to in the afterlife. That will fill our hearts even more.

This life is like a dandelion, a fleeting flower that will eventually float on a breeze…but the memories of that joy and lightness can stay with us forever.

What do you think?

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O Thanks

Sooooo, we could get weighed down by all our sin, we could feel guilt at all the stones Jesus casts into the sea for us…or we can be thankful.  We can approach each day cleansed, lighter, filled with love.  We can be like a little blossom in spring turned to the light to grow.

Have you been watching them on the trees right now?  Here in Belmond it is just happening.  I love it…my kids tease me because I walk under the trees every year and take photos of the leaves unfurling and the birth of the flowers.  I love looking at the little buds, the ones just opening, and the gloriousness of the bouquets filling the branches their petals facing the light in thanks for their little lives, no matter how short.

That is how I want to be.  Filled with thanks, turned to the light.  All the time.  For I am loved forever.  You are loved forever.  FOREVER.  That is something to be thankful for.

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Sins in the Sea

Every once in awhile I get a visual of all of my sins and the magnitude of what Jesus has done for us.  This verse from Micah hit me hard.  I sat there and thought about everything I have done…even just recently.  I thought of the big stones, and even every little pebble.  Think about it for you.  Can you see your pile?  If you were to stack them all at your feet what would it look like?  Would it build a wall all the way around you separating you from your Savior?

But when we call on Jesus He sanctifies us!  We can think of it as little sores that He heals.

Or we can think of it as Jesus with a bulldozer coming to crash our walls.  He uses a big excavator to put them in a dump truck that then drives them all to the sea and drops them in.  SPLASH!  (Tanner my little guy would like this visual!)

Or maybe you like the visual of God standing next to you picking up each stone no matter how big.  Then tossing them into the sea, maybe even skipping the little ones. And all of them sinking away out of view.

Either way, kind of makes me want to give God less work to do.  Makes me think about what would happen if my stones filled the sea.

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Sanctified

Not only does He fill us, but He purifies and cleanses us as He fills us.  He wipes away all of those little red blots on us, in us, and fills those craters left behind with what we need.  Because sin isn’t just a surface thing…every little infraction starts on the surface, but no matter how small it is, it is an ulcer that eats away at our souls.  Ever gotten upset about something, said something wrong, and then regretted and thought about it for days?  And the same when someone does something to you–considering revenge or the wise crack we can get back at them?  Ulcers.

But when we turn to God, and confess we need Him, He comes.  He wipes away the infections and heals the sores of sin and helps us move on.  And He is okay with cleaning up the same sins over and over.  But each time He leaves behind a little more encouragement for us to knock it off and be more like Jesus.  To live and love like He did.  To sanctify ourselves to be closer to God.  Now and forever.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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