Friday, October 31, 2008

Martin Luther - 491 years later still inspiring

491 years ago today, Martin nailed his theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg.

And so the Reformation began.

Recently I have come upon 2 quotes that have had a profound impact on me.  The first was quoted in my In Christ's Image Training class: 
“If I miss prayer one day, I feel it; if I fail to pray two days, the entire church feels it; should I not pray three days, all Germany suffers.”

When I read this, my heart was stirred to bring me to the point of weeping.  I knew it was applicable to the call God has placed on my life. Even now as I typed this my heart is stirred.  Such conviction is overwhelming to me.  I MUST pray for the nations.  

The second I discovered today:
Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us. 

As I look forward to leading worship this Sunday, this is something that will be on my mind.  What a priviledge it is to be able to sing to God!  This is a great reminder.

I am grateful that there have been and still are men and women that God uses in each of our lives to inspire, convict and encourage.

Thank you God, for Martin Luther!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do You Want to Know Jesus' Heart?

I am more and more convinced that we need to get this one thing more than anything else right now.  This is Jesus' prayer for us!  This is His heart! Why don't we live this?  It is not a list of things to do but a total surrender of all that we are to Jesus.  Jesus said that we are not defined by the world when we are His and yet we continue to try and do just that - define ourselves by the world's standards!  We try and tell the world about who it is we believe in and yet forsake the one thing that Jesus himself said would be the convincing point: unity through love.  Father God, help me see others with your eyes, with your heart!  It's all about you, it's not about me and what I think or want.  It's all about You, Jesus!

John 17 (The Message)

Jesus' Prayer for His Followers
 1-5 Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: 
   Father, it's time. 
   Display the bright splendor of your Son 
   So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor. 
   You put him in charge of everything human 
   So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. 
   And this is the real and eternal life: 
   That they know you, 
   The one and only true God, 
   And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. 
   I glorified you on earth 
   By completing down to the last detail 
   What you assigned me to do. 
   And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor, 
   The very splendor I had in your presence 
   Before there was a world.

 6-12I spelled out your character in detail 
   To the men and women you gave me. 
   They were yours in the first place; 
   Then you gave them to me, 
   And they have now done what you said. 
   They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, 
   That everything you gave me is firsthand from you, 
   For the message you gave me, I gave them; 
   And they took it, and were convinced 
   That I came from you. 
   They believed that you sent me. 
   I pray for them. 
   I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world 
   But for those you gave me, 
   For they are yours by right. 
   Everything mine is yours, and yours mine, 
   And my life is on display in them. 
   For I'm no longer going to be visible in the world; 
   They'll continue in the world 
   While I return to you. 
   Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life 
   That you conferred as a gift through me, 
   So they can be one heart and mind 
   As we are one heart and mind. 
   As long as I was with them, I guarded them 
   In the pursuit of the life you gave through me; 
   I even posted a night watch. 
   And not one of them got away, 
   Except for the rebel bent on destruction 
   (the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

 13-19Now I'm returning to you. 
   I'm saying these things in the world's hearing 
   So my people can experience 
   My joy completed in them. 
   I gave them your word; 
   The godless world hated them because of it, 
   Because they didn't join the world's ways, 
   Just as I didn't join the world's ways. 
   I'm not asking that you take them out of the world 
   But that you guard them from the Evil One. 
   They are no more defined by the world 
   Than I am defined by the world. 
   Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; 
   Your word is consecrating truth. 
   In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, 
   I give them a mission in the world. 
   I'm consecrating myself for their sakes 
   So they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

 20-23I'm praying not only for them 
   But also for those who will believe in me 
   Because of them and their witness about me. 
   The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— 
   Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, 
   So they might be one heart and mind with us. 
   Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. 
   The same glory you gave me, I gave them, 
   So they'll be as unified and together as we are— 
   I in them and you in me. 
   Then they'll be mature in this oneness, 
   And give the godless world evidence 
   That you've sent me and loved them 
   In the same way you've loved me.

 24-26Father, I want those you gave me 
   To be with me, right where I am, 
   So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, 
   Having loved me 
   Long before there ever was a world. 
   Righteous Father, the world has never known you, 
   But I have known you, and these disciples know 
   That you sent me on this mission. 
   I have made your very being known to them— 
   Who you are and what you do— 
   And continue to make it known, 
   So that your love for me 
   Might be in them 
   Exactly as I am in them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thoughts on circumstances

In this season of political and economic upheaval, it is a good thing to remember 2 things:

1) Romans 13 says:
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

All Authority has been established by God.  Certainly vote the way the Holy Spirit guides you!  But whatever the outcome, remember that God is in control and that whoever is president IS president because God gave him the authority.

2) Psalm 111 says:
5 He provides food for those who fear him; 
       he remembers his covenant forever.

and Jesus said in Matthew 6:

24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

and Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:

7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Our provision is not dependent on our own efforts, on our jobs, or on the economy.  Our provision comes from God.  He gives us the skills and talents that we can use in making a living, certainly. But when our circumstances are such that our own efforts come to nothing, we need not live in fear for our food and clothing.  Our provision comes from God.  It is that simple.

I think that in this country we have become so accustomed to a lifestyle that is so excessive that the thought of actually being content with having just our needs met is, by comparison, terrifying to most of us!  But the bottom line is: If I have less to occupy my time in care and upkeep, I have more time to spend with God and family and friends.  What are my standards for contentment in life?   Are they based on things?  or are they based on relationships?  What are God's standards? 

Maybe by answering those questions, we can find a right perspective on the events that are happening in front of us.  Whether the person we believe should be in office wins or not, whether the economy recovers quickly or we enter into an economic crisis - these things I know - God is sovereign and His ways are not our ways and He loves us and is pursuing us with a passion and I want to return that passion to Him.  My response can only be - Whatever it takes, God.