Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

Do you face the impossible today? Is there some task, person, or thing that is threatening to overtake you? Are you afraid--of that situation or your reaction to it? Here's how you can find overcoming strength . . . .

Nehemiah faced a daunting task--to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 
  1. He had to convince the king for whom he was cup bearer to give him a leave of absence, safe passage, and enough timber to build the wall (as well as beams for the gates of the palace and for the house that he would live in).
  2. He had no building team--it had to be assembled. 
  3. He couldn't just go to Lowe's or Home Depot to get his materials. They had to be brought in from the king's forest.
  4. He faced opposition from difficult men who challenged him at every turn.
Yet, despite all of these difficulties, Nehemiah finished the wall in fifty-two days. How did he do it?
  1. He trusted God to give him favor in the sight of Artaxerxes (the king for whom he was cup bearer) which resulted in his leave of absence, safe passage, and timber.
  2. He conveyed his vision for the wall to the religious leaders in Jerusalem who helped him accomplish his God-given mission.
  3. He overcame his enemies by keeping his eyes on his mission and letting God deal with them (Nehemiah 4:14).
And when his job was complete, Nehemiah spoke to the people of Israel:

"Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, 
and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared;
for this day is holy unto our Lord.
Neither be ye grieved;
for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
~ Nehemiah 8:10

So as you face the impossible today, keep these things in mind:  
  1. Trust God to give you strength to do the work He's called you to do
  2. Keep your eyes on the mission He has given you
  3. Enlist others to help you
  4. Do not let others keep you from doing the will of God
  5. Rejoice when the work is done. 
The joy of the LORD is your strength.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

In this crazy world, where wrong often seems right and what we see as good is often "spoken of as evil," it's easy to be confused. Many saints have followed popular thinking to their own destruction. How can we be in the world without allowing the world to distract us from the mission God has given us?

What is our mission anyway?
  • Generally speaking, Jesus' disciples are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Wherever we live, we are to represent Him--talk as Jesus talked, walk as Jesus walked. In doing so, His joy will remain in us (John 16:24) and we will shine as those who have hope (I Thessalonians 4:13).
  • We are to give others a reason for the hope that we have (I Peter 3:15). And that reason is, of course, Jesus who is coming again to receive us unto Himself (John 14:1-3).
  •  We are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). In an age of injustice, cruelty, and pride, we are to act counter-culturally evidencing that God's ways are not man's ways (Isaiah 55:8).
Will we stick out? 
Will we become objects of ridicule? 
What do we do then?

Like Paul and Silas in Acts 16--imprisoned for following Christ--they sang to God through the night and He shook the ground for their sakes, releasing them from prison that they might continue to serve Him.  Sing!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Knowing When to Throw in the Towel

As children, we knew that almost everything took practice. We accepted the fact that we couldn't tie our shoes on our first attempt--or ride a bike, or swim across the pool. We knew that it took a year (at least) of training before we were granted a license to drive a car.

Perhaps we were grittier then than we are now. Perhaps we've fallen victim to the cultural "need" for instant gratification. Perhaps that's why so many of us throw in the towel long before we should.

How many of our relationships, or goals, or desires, have fallen by the wayside simply because we lacked the determination to press on? Have you ever changed course only to look back and wish you hadn't acted so hastily? How do you know you need to hang in there even if things seem hopeless?

This is not to say that there isn't a time to move on, but when is that time? What are some signs that God wants us to change course?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Paying Homage to a Godly Man

There are scores of Bible verses extolling the virtues of a godly woman--how she blesses her husband and her children, how she cares for her servants, how she benefits her community. Proverbs frequently reminds men of the value of a godly wife as opposed to a quarrelsome one or, worse, an evil woman whose intent is to draw him in like an ox going to the slaughter.

Today I want to pay homage to a godly man--my husband. Dick is 67 years old today and has spent the past 36 years walking with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What makes him great is the Spirit of God living inside of him.

For him and for all godly men, I'd like to share Psalm 112 today. Read and be blessed!

Psalm 112

Praise the LORD.

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who finds great delight in his commands.

His children will be mighty in the land'
each generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.
He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked man will see and be vexed,
he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

If you know a godly man, tell him today how much you appreciate him and encourage him to continue his walk with the Lord. The more godly he becomes, the more lovely it will be to follow him.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When There's No Clear-Cut Answer

Sometimes there's no clear-cut answer as to how to proceed. Then what do you do?

I'm facing a minor dilemma--to do or not to do_________ (fill in your own blank).
I love what my former supervisor advised when it came to just about any option she faced. She would ask herself:

Do I have to do it?
Do I want to do it?

If the answer to either of these questions was yes, then she would proceed.

In other words, if it's something I know I should do--something scriptural or something the Still Small Voice warns me to do, then I should go ahead and do it, even if I don't want to?

On the other hand, maybe it's something I feel no NEED to do, but it's something I WANT to do (besides sin, of course). Then I ought to go ahead and do it. Christians can have fun, too.

And that answers the question for me today: I have to do it. Moreover I want to do it. So, goodbye for now. I'm on my way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Five Places for Retirement

Yahoo's front page this morning featured Five Places for Retirement as "havens offering tax breaks and leisure." I'm always curious to discover what other places offer that my own home town doesn't--so I scanned the article. Was the grass greener on the other side of the country?

Well, let's see.Charlottesville, VA offers a mild climate, proximity to golf courses, parks and wineries, art & theater scenes, developed downtown district. On the downside, there's an above-average cost of living & moderate tax breaks, with a mid-sized public transit system. Sounds like home. Guess I won't be moving to Virginia.

As I looked at the other four cities, I discovered they offered nothing positive (except for a low cost of living in Pittsburgh, PA) that I don't have right here in Portland, Oregon. On the downside, however, they offered these negatives: high tornado risk, high hurricane risk, higher than average cost of living, and high crime rates. No thank you!

I believe I'll remain content where I am and yearn for only one "retirement" destination: the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).

What about you? Are you content to stay where you are? If not, what compels you to find "heaven" on earth?