Thursday, March 14, 2013

I AM Protecting...

"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared" (Exodus 23:20). 

When you feel alone, be reminded that I am there. When you feel unprepared, be resolute that I am there. When you feel attacked on all sides and hopeless that you will make through the trial that seeks to overwhelm, let there be no doubt that I am there. I have always been there. There is not on e thing you have faced that I have not intervened on your behalf. Though it may not always be obvious through the limitation of your finite understanding, I have stepped in between you and your opposition more than your natural eyes have permitted you to see.

Don't allow your fears, your worries, you inability to see and manipulate the future of what you face to overtake you. You do not have to be defensive, take revenge, or be overwhelmed with how you are going to navigate through the hostile waters you are sailing. You are My child. I will protect my children. I come to your defense because I love you. Protecting you doesn't mean allowing you to become immune to the heartaches and pains of this world. My power to protect you is a determination that they will not destroy you.

My truth declares that in this world you will face troubles, obstacles, disappointments, and yes, you will face tragedies that were not a part of the design I had destined for you. But because my love runs deeper than your understanding will permit you to fathom or comprehend, I have stepped in between what you face and the intention of your enemy to use what you face to destroy you. I have paid a high price for you. I am not giving you up without a fight...and I do not lose. I have overcome the world. The battle is mine and the battle is won. Trust in Me. Trust Me. Trust. The "I AM" is protecting you. -Your Guardian

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I AM Providing...

"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared" (Exodus 23:20).

"'See, I am sending an angel ahead of you...' I know what you need. I know the fears you have. I know what keeps you awake at night, wondering how all that needs to be worked out will somehow fall miraculously in place. I know what you lack. I am fully aware of your deficiencies and your insufficiency. 

I am still the God that is more than able to provide for your every need. I am the One who crafted every facet of creation with the words formed on my lips. I spoke out and it came to be. I took my people out of Egypt and provided them with manna, with quail, and with water from a rock. Twice. Most importantly I provided them with my presence. Like a cloud by day and a fire by night, I guided my people and provided for their every need.

I am providing for you. You are my child. You were known within the depth of my mind's eye and fashioned by the steady strength of my own hand. I know where you are. I know where I've destined you to be. I know what is holding back. Rest assured, because I know how to get you there.

My provision is perfect. My timing is uncompromisingly exact. My love for you has never waned. Each trial you face that magnifies the emptiness that exists in your life is yet another opportunity for you to see my grace that is highlighted as more than enough. Each moment you face in weakness is another iron in the fire of seeing My strength being made perfect in spite of your weakness.

Whatever you need is found in Me. You are My child. I am your Father. My love is everlasting. My grace is more than enough. My mercy is far reaching. And most of all, I am walking this road with you. I AM your very present help in time of your every need."  - The Great I AM.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Navigating the Journey

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long" (Psalm 25:11).

Everything had to work out just perfectly if I was going to pull of what seemed impossible to some and irrational to others. There was a limited amount of time for me to drive four and half hours one way, pick someone up, turn around and return to the very place where my morning would begin. I had had an already-scheduled appointment that morning that dictated the time I would begin and an appointment that was important to keep that determined my needing to be back by a certain time. Somewhat familiar with the general area I was heading, I was unsure and uncertain exactly where I needed to arrive, only what time I needed to arrive there by and again return to the highway in the opposite direction. 

On the highway, radio blaring, coffee in hand, and making decent time, I had a moment of insightful awakening. Rather than a vision from God, it was the sudden awareness that I had no exact direction for how I was going to achieve my exact destination so that the seemingly irrational schedule of the day would not unravel before my road-focused eyes. The answer seemed  as clear as newly cleaned glass. I knew there was a Radio Shack in the complex of the rest stop I had already planned on visiting. Upon grabbing my fresh hot cup of java, I ran over to the store and purchased an incredibly marked-down, on-sale, ready to go GPS. Getting in the car, I tore open the box, plugged it in, turned it on, and programmed the destination. In an instant it showed me how to get there, what time it was at that moment, and what time I would arrive. If I ran into difficulty on the way with traffic, accidents, or detours, it would recalculate an alternate route to assure my arrival. The GPS was essential in getting down and back without a hitch. There was a cost, but it was worth it.

The Truth that is discovered between the treasured pages of the best selling book to ever be found in print, the Holy Bible, serves much the same purpose as even the most expensive GPS device. God has a destination for each of our lives that involves a purpose, a blessing, a hope, and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He is never taken by surprise or caught off guard by the accidents, traffic jams, and detours that are readily found on life's intertwining system of highways. His Word is truth, powerful, insightful, and fully prepared to navigate us through all that we will encounter. 

When you face fear, the Bible reminds you that His perfect love casts out all fear. When weakness attempts to detour your journey, His truth declares with great certainty and confidence that His strength is made perfect in your weakness. When you find yourself having taken a wrong turn and are lost in the desolate wilderness of confusion and despair, His Truth promises that He is the God who causes fresh springs of oasis to well up in the desert places. He gives wisdom, guides you in truth, corrects you when you are wrong, reminds you of His mercy, and recalculates and redirects you on the right path. If you will allow Him, His determination is set on navigating you from where you and assuring that you will be at the destination He has designed for you in just right time.

Take time to discover the truth of God's greatest handheld navigational device. The Bible may be antiquated to some, but is found timeless and invaluable by all who seek God's guidance, depend upon His wisdom, and follow the direction that is found in His Word. Resist the temptation to allow the busyness and ever-morphing craziness of daily to-do lists, emails, and calendars to decide whether or not you have time to find the direction His Word offers. Start somewhere. Start small. Start now. Read it. Think on it. Ask God how it relates to your life. The Holy Spirit will guide you in that truth. And then...act on, do it, apply it, and watch God take you to exactly where He wants you to be. He will guide you in His truth, teach you the way you should go. He will remind you that He is God, YOUR Savior and that His hope will sustain you throughout the duration of your journey.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Embracing the Silence

"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation" (Psalm 62:1).

"I need quiet!" "I can't even hear myself think!" These words of great infamy rank right up there with declarations such as "Give me  liberty or give me death," Remember the Alamo," and "Who shot JR?" These words have been uttered by parents, employees, bosses, kids, and most anyone that's worked with kids! There have been undeniable moments in our lives when the noise on the inside of heads rivaled the commotion on the outside.

Life can get loud. There are expectations that scream for attention. There are pressing engagements that demand immediate response. There are the nagging worries of the day that seem harder to shake than a fat man on a diet trying to settle for a salad at an all-you-can eat buffet! The decibels in our mind are cranked up to such a level that alarms of our sanity begin to sound in warning of imminent danger. Where do you go to escape the cycle of unending chaos? Where is the sheltering refuge when it feels like we're seeking safety from a nuclear explosion by hiding in storm cellar?

David, masterfully and lyrically penning his thoughts in Psalm 62 expresses his own heart in his search for the shelter in the storm. He find his silence (his rest, his peace, his safe place), not just in God, alone, but in the waiting for God alone. It was in this place of silent waiting did he find peace in his hope in the Lord. It was in this place he knew He was held. It was in the safety of being found in the hollow of the hands of One who shaped the mountains and formed the handiwork of all life.

David knew firsthand the noise of family dysfunction, on the job conflicts, and the inner turmoil he found fighting for life in the secret and dark spaces of mind. Yet, he knew that his soul, his mind, his will, and his emotions would find there solace in the space of waiting. It was in the waiting that he was able to hear the voice of God in the stillness and the silence of the dark. When hope seemed lost in the chaos of his unraveling kingdom, his peace was found in the silence of waiting on God, alone. That is where David found salvation, deliverance, and the promise for a renewed hope and a steadfast courage.

Is it loud? Are the voices in your head competing with the voices on the outside? Do you ever feel as though you are treading water with no raft in sight, your strength failing, and the sound of your screams fading off in the distance? He has not forgotten you. He is not ignoring you. He hears you when you call. Sometimes it takes Him allowing us to get to the place of silence before we are able to really hear Him speak. It has been said that only in silence may our prayers truly be answered. It is in that place of silent waiting that we once again realize that He is the author of our salvation. He is the One who will be the source of our deliverance. 

Find a quiet place today. Be open and honest with the God of creation with all that you are facing. Ask Him to give you the strength and the courage to shut out the raging noises of confusion, doubt, and angst. Be still and allow Him to speak. Do not give into the urge of control that would deceive you into meaningless and empty action. Don't confuse God's silence with His absence. It is in the silence that we are able to really hear. Don't resist the waiting. Embrace the silence. There you will find rest, be reminded of the closeness of His presence, and know that He is still God.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spit Happens

"Then He spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man's eyes" (John 9:6).

It was a Saturday in November and our home was already in a state of "planned" chaos. We were closing in a porch and converting into the kitchen of my wife's dreams. Contractors were there, loud noises unmistakeable, and order seemed to be a long ways off in the distant future. With a large planned event for that night at our church and with grocery shopping being the necessity before hand, that Saturday was more loaded than a baked potato at a greasy spoon steak house. 

During the rush of the morning, I went down stairs into our finished basement. Immediately I heard the sound of water splashing. The warmth of that water had quickly saturated the socks I was wearing and quickly found its way in between and over my toes. I looked over to the closet that housed our hot water tank and beheld our very own fountain pool that brought back memories of Niagara Falls! On top of the construction project, the ordeal of having to price out water heaters, securing the plumber on an emergency basis on a Saturday, and the bill that would soon follow, that day went from loaded to overloaded. 

The very next week, on a Saturday, no less, my sons came rushing up from the basement bathroom describing something that reminded me of the "Swamp Thing." I should have been thankful that at least we had hot water, but this situation was going from bad to worse. I tried plunging. I attempted snaking. I even took off the toilet and reached down in with my hands! All to NO AVAIL. It was now Thanksgiving weekend and I again called the plumber. After doing all he knew to do, he gave me the not-so-great news that it was more than we anticipated. Of course I knew this meant the cost would be more than we anticipated, too. The next thing I know, there was a backhoe in my yard digging down four to five feet to discover what used to be a pipe, now crushed. The inconvenience. The cost. The stress. Where was God?

During that season, when it seemed like everything was going bad to worse, as though God had somehow abandoned His post at hearing and answering prayers, He reminded me of something. He never left. He was and is always there. There was a purpose behind His allowance of all I was facing.

What must the disciples have thought upon seeing Jesus spit on the dirt, form the mud into a useable element, and spread it over the eyes of a blind man! The man was already living a life of darkness, forced to beg, knowing that everyone else was on their journey. He had reconciled to living a life content upon the leftovers of others, and now Jesus was here. Rather than waving his fingers and reciting some fanciful and lofty prayer, He spreads mud in the eyes of a blind man. Bad to worse seemed to be only the beginning. 

The word for "spread" used in the Greek in which it was originally written is the same word that is used for the word "anoint." To anoint is to "call out" or to appoint. It's the word that was used for those that were anointed to be king or priest. It is the same meaning in which Jesus said He was anointed to preach the good news. God will use the spit and mud situations in your life in order to anoint you further for the calling He has for you. He will use ANYTHING to bring about the purpose He has for your life. Don't get mad when it feels like God is spitting in your eyes. He's using the dirt of the situation you find yourself in, though it appears to be going from bad to worse, and is working a miracle in you and through you. He is opening your blind eyes to see His face, His purpose, and a vision for "what's next" that you would never otherwise believe! Trust Him...and you'll SEE!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Blinding Blame

His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2).

He was 17, and struggling to maintain control as he attempted to navigate a barrage of emotions that would take him high, yet bring him crashing down. It hadn't taken him all of his few years to see that life really wasn't fair. His parents were divorced. His home life was broken. He felt, at times, as though he was in a room that was ever-decreasing in size. And he was mad. Anger was the one emotion that he could count on. It greeted him as old friend, yet tormented him like the enemy that it was. 

The nagging thought that served as fuel for the anger of inferno was a question he could not stop from continually asking. "Who's fault was this?" Why was his life so consistently inconsistent? Why were there moments when hope seemed so deserving for everyone else but him? What had he done for this to be his life? Who's fault was it? This blame served only to perpetuate the endless and assuming theories of conspiracy that had overtaken reality in his mind. He was mad at his father for never being there. He was mad at his mother for his father not being there. He was mad at God for allowing it all to happen. His anger was focused inward, accepting a responsibility for all that was going awry. Someone had to be blamed.

Have you ever felt that way. It seems to be the natural inclination for most every human that faces an obstacle that can't be easily explained, accepted, or understood. The disciples were no exception. While walking with Jesus they came across a sad sight, one that had inevitably been seen at some earlier point of their journey. They chose to ask a question. "Who's sin is to blame for this? His own, or his parents." Their way of thinking was so biased to blame that there was no other explanation but blame that held any amount of credibility. It was someone's fault, but whose? Someone was to blame for the senseless tragedy of blindness. This couldn't possibly be allowed by a God that "so loved the world" that Jesus came to die as a curse on a cross. That did not fit within the framework of their logic or reasoning. Blame had to be assigned.

It's easy blame. It's easy to judge. It's easy to assume. When life takes an unexpected turn, you feel as though you have to be able to explain. When you can't put rational words to that which appears so irrational, blame is the only "logical" recourse. Blame will never satisfy the hurt and the pain of life's ups and downs. Additionally, it will only serve as a greater distraction and an increasing gap in your ability to trust in God's greater plan. Blame and faith do not walk hand in hand. One must give way to the other. Withhold imposing responsibility for the negative elements in your life on others. Rather, stretch out your faith in a God who uses all things. He can take it, brake, and remake it until it is customized for the God-ordained purpose that He has already destined for you.

No, it's not fair. God never promised you fairness, but He did promise you faithfulness. He never assured you comfort, but He did insure that His comfort would always be available to you. Lean on Him. Rely on Him. Trust that there is a reason He has allowed you to walk in the "valley of the shadow of death." While you're there, look beside you. He's right there with you. Allow Him to show you why He felt as though the season you are in was the season He felt was best for you at this time in your life. Don't overwhelm yourself with trying to figure it all out. Be still. Be quiet. Listen. But don't blame. Trust Him. Blame will blind you. Faith will open your eyes, and you will begin to see.