Deuteronomy 16 ends with the command to never set up Asherah poles or sacred pillars beside the altar they would build for God.
God knows man. He knows that man will instinctively want multiple gods. It seems strange that He would have to give this command to His chosen people, but they disobeyed it repeatedly.
And Christians disobey it today. We don’t call them gods, but if we elevate them in importance so that we treat them as equal to God, then that’s what they are. We may refuse to admit it, but refusing doesn’t change truth. 😕
“He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.” These are much more than words to an old song.
I grew up in a typical American Christian home. By that I mean that we loved God, but lived our Christian walks on our own terms. Generally, that meant we went to church when we felt like it, prayed when we needed something, and read our Bibles when we wanted to. For me, everything changed when I started attending church regularly at 18 and began to realize what I’d been missing.
As I grew in my walk with Him I discovered true hunger. The closer I got to God, the closer I wanted to be. I was in my 30s when, as a minister was talking about one of the many conversations he’d had with God, an undeniable desire rose up in me. “God,” I begged. “I want that type of relationship with You!”
Long story short: Today I have it. It took a while. I had to learn to shut up and listen, to recognize His voice, and once I recognized it I had to learn to always be listening for it – and to respond. A conversation, you see, takes two. Now we talk a LOT.
It may be Him starting the conversation, or it may be me. It may be deep theological converse or it may be lighthearted stuff. He answers questions I once would not have dared ask, and He tells me secrets. Sometimes He ambushes me with information I’d not even considered asking for. He warns me of things to come, and He reassures and comforts me when I’m hurt or afraid and run to His arms.
Now, here’s the point. I’m not special. The only thing about me that’s different from some others is the strong desire I have for this relationship, and my willingness to do whatever is necessary to develop and maintain it. I’ve had to seek Him out and spend time with Him; I’ve had to work at getting to know Him just like I’ve had to do with my earthly best friend.
God wants everyone to have this type of relationship with Him. It’s what He created us for.
We ask the question, “Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?” and the one who has accepted salvation automatically says, “Yes.” I would ask it differently today. “Ok, He is your Savior, but is He your Lord?” There is a difference.
The one who has accepted Jesus as his Savior has been saved from bondage to sin, and every time he realizes he has sinned he can repent, ask forgiveness, and be pulled back up out of that sin as one is saved from drowning in water.
But here’s the thing. Some people are having to repent of sin continually while others walk more consistently upright. What’s the difference?
It’s Jesus’ lordship.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus asks, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what I say?” This is the key. If Jesus is truly my Lord, I will do what He says. If I do what He says, I will be much less likely to sin and have to be rescued from the consequences of that sin. So how do I do what He says?
First, I must know what He says. This takes active effort on my part. It requires getting into the Word, studying it. (2 Tim. 2:15)
Then I have to apply His Word to my life. I have to live what I’ve learned. This requires me to continually choose His will over sin.
And, ultimately, I strive to develop an intimate relationship with Him, to learn to hear His voice so clearly that a whispered, “Go this way,” keeps me on the right path.
I was asked, recently, about my favorite Bible story. What is it, and why? I had a hard time choosing, but I said it was Ruth. Why? Because the book of Ruth tells a powerful story of redemption.
Elimelech blew it. He let fear of famine drive him out of Judah into Moab, where he knew he wasn’t supposed to be. All seemed well for a time, but eventually he and both of his sons died; his lineage was now not just polluted by rebellion, but was dead.
And then there was Ruth, a Moabite who had no business even being in the family. Even so, because of her faithfulness to Naomi, she was welcomed with open arms and eventually married Boaz, Elimelech’s kinsman redeemer.
In marrying Ruth, Boaz did more than redeem her. He redeemed Elimelech’s line when he gave Ruth a son, Obed, who counted as a descendant of Elimelech and would carry on the family name as well as inheriting Elimelech’s property. Obed, truly, was a son of redemption.
And Obed begat Jesse.
And Jesse begat David.
And through David came Jesus.
And so the son of redemption is the ever-so-great grandfather of our Redeemer.
While driving home from the office, I had a moment of… I felt a little spiritually unproductive; I suppose that’s the best way to say it. I thought, “Oh, I need to turn on some worship music or my Bible study app.” Then I heard God’s voice.
“But you like the silence.”
“Yes,” I responded. “I do.”
“So enjoy it.”
Believe it or not, I cried in that moment as I was reminded that He truly understands me. People, God GETS you! He knows all the details of what makes you tick. Even such a simple thing as this, that I value silence because I get it so seldom, is an important thing to Him. He cares about the details!
As a child, I heard numerous prayers that included the words, “if it be Thy will.” As a result, I had one picture of “Thy will be done.” Mind you, that picture is not inaccurate, simply only one part of a picture.
As an adult, I ask that God’s will, and only His will, be done in situations and people’s lives all the time. But today…
In this week’s Flourish Journey (passionpublishing) I was led to read Psalm 19 and several other scriptures in light of “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” and I saw something new. Or, perhaps I should say I saw an old truth with fresh eyes.
I want God’s will to be done in and through me just as surely today as it will be when I live in Heaven. I want to continually and actively choose to do God’s will, to continually and actively choose to let God’s will be done in and through me here on this earth just as surely and consistently as I will when I’m living in His presence.
Psalm 19:13a shows this was David’s heart. “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
Yes, my prayer is, “God, help me. Help me to live out Your will today just as purely and completely as I will live it in Heaven.”
The very last sentence in 1 John is so powerful. Children of God, if there is even A CHANCE that this thing – this new hobby, this relationship, this habit – MIGHT take God’s place in your heart, KEEP AWAY!
These are probably my favorite shoes…at least today. I have literally worn them out so completely that the duct tape you see is only covering holes in my soles – not really doing much to protect my foot. But you can’t see this important detail when you’re just looking down at my shoes.
Today, when I admitted to myself that I really need to dumpster these beauties, it occurred to me just how much they resemble the way we are sometimes.
We can look all pretty on the outside, making everyone think we’re just fine, while our souls seem to be held together with duct tape. The wounds may be hidden, but they are very real. I encourage you, don’t let yourself stay in such a condition. God is there, and He doesn’t just patch us up; He makes us new.
A friend used to tell her children, as they walked out the door, “Remember whose kid you are.” She wasn’t talking about herself, but God. When we keep in mind the fact that GOD is our FATHER, it changes us. It changes the way we think, the way we act, who we are.
So who IS our Father? Today, my Flourish journey (Passion Publishing/LifeWay) inspired me to do something I’ve never done before. I added the words “my Father” to a passage…and it seriously brought the Word’s message home in a whole new way.
Psalm 24:1-10 (ESV)
“The earth is my Father’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for my Father founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord my Father? Who may stand in my Father’s holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from my Father the Lord, and vindication from my Father God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek my Father, who seek Your face, my Father, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is this King of glory? My Father, the Lord strong and mighty, my Father, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – my Father – he is the King of glory.”
THAT is who your Father is, child of God, and don’t you forget it.