Thursday, June 8, 2017

Isaiah 37:16

Isaiah 37:16
“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.”

As a general rule, I don’t think the church believes in the God of the Bible. If we did, shouldn’t the world look different? If we really did believe in the Lord of hosts, should we be panicked at the thought of war? We read about the God who holds the whole world together by the power of His voice but as soon as something in our life seems to fall apart we throw a tantrum. We trust Him to keep earth spinning but refuse to trust Him to have total authority in our lives. For example, I’ll go to bed tonight without bolting my bed to the floor and strapping myself down to my mattress. I’ll do this confidently trusting that the Lord will continue to keep the universe perfectly spinning so that gravity doesn’t completely change over night. Nothing in me ever doubts that God is the best one to do this. But, when it comes time to do Kids Club and that one kid whose hard to love shows up I rarely remember to ask God how to show this kid the love of Christ. I live as if He can’t possibly know how to handle the smaller details of life. Written out it sounds so foolish but everyone has this basic testimony at some point in their lives. As soon as the problem gets close to our heart we stop trusting and start acting in our own strength. This leads to the next problem which is that we don’t give Him the praise He deserves because He isn’t living through us. When we do it in our own strength, we get the glory. He dwells between angels who give Him glory continually but even that is not enough to convince our rebellious hearts to bow down in adoration. God is supposed to reign on the throne of our hearts unchallenged but all too often I’ve allowed people, dreams, desires, etc., to take His place as rightful King. Though He undoubtedly deserves all of my devotion, if He is not wanted He will not force Himself onto the throne. Robotic devotion is never something the Lord desires, our hearts have to be willingly handed over or they will remain trapped by the world forever. He is God alone. Not buddha, Muhammad, the iPhone 7plus, or any other idol made by hands. If this God is the one in whom we have out our trust, what does this change? Saying that you believe in Jesus Christ should be the most loaded statement you can possibly make. In that decision should be your life and being. I’m not saying this as someone who has figured it out but I do know that knowing God changes everything. And if He hasn’t radically changed your life, then you don’t believe in the God of the Bible.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Isaiah 19:19

Isaiah 19:19 

"In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border."


It wasn't until recently that I even tried to read any book in the Old Testament. I thought that they were all completely irrelevant and too hard to understand. And while I still think parts of it are hard to fully understand, I now see how the Old Testament is relevant in today's world even though it was written thousands of years ago. The books that I've read recently have been about how faithful God is despite the Israelites regular relapses into complete rebellion. Through those stories the Lord showed me a little bit more of how deeply He loves His people. My own tendencies to stray were revealed each time the Israelites walked away from God. He never let them down or broke His promises and yet again and again they tried to do things their own way. In Isaiah 14 it says that God "will still choose Israel." Still. Despite their failure and sin, even though they don't always choose Him... He chooses to call the Israelites His people. But even more than choosing the ones He has already chosen, He loves to rescue the lost. God loves to redeem those who seem completely out of His reach. In Isaiah 19:19 we are told that there will be an altar to the Lord in Egypt. If you don't slow down and really consider the gravity of this statement, you'll miss out on something beautiful. A land that was never, by human standards, supposed to love the Lord now has both an altar and a pillar dedicated to Him. The altar showed their hearts attitude towards God. They were devoted to the point of spending something in their worship. The Egyptians understood that the cost of worship isn't free and built an altar to worship the Lord. But their devotion didn't stop there. Often as American christians we play a game where we say we love Jesus at church on Sunday's and Wednesday nights but nothing in our life actually changes. None of our co-workers or friends see any genuine devotion in our lives. The Egyptians in this verse understood something that thousands of years later we still have a hard time grasping. If your love for Jesus is real, if He really is your Savior then the world will know. Before anyone crosses the border to settle into your life they'll see the pillar and know that there's something different about you. This pillar proclaims that you have a purpose. It shows that there is genuine worship in your heart that isn't ashamed of Who it's devoted to. As the Egyptians turned to the Lord in worship, it affected both the public and private aspects of their lives. Reading this while in Ignite is both encouraging and convicting. It shows that the Lord is able to soften the hardest hearts but also that my life needs to be lived for Him in every single part of my life, not just the public and not just the private. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Isaiah 5:2

Isaiah 5:2 
"He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes."

It's common in our culture for people to say that we just need to find ourselves, to discover who we are and then we can be happy. Once you love yourself you find a god who fits into the mold of what you want him to be to satisfy your needs. Really, this is a completely self centered way to live and does not lead to true life. Living that way is missing out on mind blowing realities of who God is. In Isaiah 5:2, and the verses just before and just after it, the heart of the Lord towards His people is revealed. Isaiah uses the picture of a vineyard to show the Israelites how God cares for them. They were planted on a hill that was known for being fruitful. The Gardener cleared out all the stones that could choke out the roots of the vines. His heart is for them to thrive, not to wither away slowly. He didn't choose just any vine to plant in this carefully prepared land, He planted the "choicest vine." Nothing the vine did was deserving of this care and yet the Gardener sees this vine and calls it His own. Then the Gardener builds a tower to keep His vineyard safe and a winepress so that the good fruit that is grown doesn't go to waste but can be made into something lasting. Everything God could do to set up this vineyard to succeed was done. There is no reason why this vineyard shouldn't produce good fruit. And yet the last line of this verse tells us that the vineyard produced wild grapes. It's clear that the Gardener is not at fault, He did everything on His side to ensure that the vineyard would thrive. So, the responsibility falls on the vineyard that failed to produce good fruit. On one hand, this verse shows the beauty of the Lord's care for His people. On the flip side is our failure to live a life worthy of that. Our works don't save, so the fruit produced is not to earn a spot in the vineyard but to reflect the mercy that allows us to be there. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Isaiah 58:11

Isaiah 58:11
“The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”


Honestly, I don’t have some well thought out string of words for this verse. But, this verse is wildly good and so comforting during this weird season of life. The day I turned 18 one of my first thoughts was “oh gosh, now comes a lifetime of having to make all my own decisions. No thank you.” Then I realized something great. As humans our whole life is made up of daily, little decisions that affect the course of our whole life. But there were big decisions in my near future that I so dreaded that weren’t ever mine to make. Instead of just trying to pick what I think will work best, I can let the Lord direct my life along His perfect plan for me. If He is the One making the decisions, I’ll never have to worry if I’m where He wants me to be. I can live in the peace that comes from being in the center of His will. I love that this verse doesn’t sugar coat that being in God’s will does not mean life is easy. There will be droughts and times where exhaustion threatens to take over. But, during those times is when the Lord gets to be everything we need. During the seasons of confusion and drought His love is so clearly seen in the way that He carries us through what we think is impossible. The first rain after a drought always brings a ton of growth. No one can deny the change that’s occurred but if there wasn’t a season of drought, there would be nothing to contrast the growth to and it wouldn’t mean as much. I guess my point in all of this is that the Lord is in the drought just as much as He is in the seasons of intense growth. The drought does not mean that He has abandoned or forgotten about you or wants you to be miserable. His love is still perfect, He is still in control. But, often a drought is needed before the rains come. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Deuteronomy 30:1-6

Deuteronomy 30:1-6
 “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

In this passage there are two little words that are repeated so much that they stand out despite their initial insignificance. The first word is “all.” In these 6 verses it’s repeated 8 times so clearly we need to pay attention to it. I know its obvious but “all” really does mean exactly that: all. All of the blessings and curses the Lord had promised would come to pass depending on whether the Israelites chose obedience or disobedience. If they disobeyed they would be scattered, but when they called on the Lord He would gather them from every single nation to which they had been scattered. God promised life if they loved Him with every part of their heart and with the entirety of their souls. He doesn’t ask for part of us but for every single part of who we are to be completely surrendered to Him. Our God is not a God who does things in pieces. He finishes what He begins (Philippians 1:6) and not one of His promises is not fulfilled (Joshua 21:45). Since Easter just passed, the fact of just how far the Lord went to save us is fresh on my mind. He paid the ultimate price by giving up His life to pay for the sins of the world. He went all the way in order to save us. In light of a God who goes all in, how could we do anything but go all in as well?

The second word that’s repeated over and over again is the word “will.” I just talked about how the promises of God can be trusted and in these verses are about 8 different promises that the Lord gives His people if they just turn to Him with their whole hearts. He promises to bring His repentant children out of captivity and have compassion on them. They don’t have to re-earn His love; He has been waiting for them to return so He can once again be their God. Obedience to God’s commands brings life and liberty, but our sinful natures still want to rebel and do life our own way. What a slap in the face to a God who loves us and desires that we would live! The Lord has so clearly been impressing upon my heart that complete obedience is vital to living the life He has planned for me. To not obey is to miss out on His perfect plan for my life.

Monday, March 27, 2017

2 Samuel 11:11-13

2 Samuel 11:11-13
Okay so if you don't know the context of these verses, they make absolutely no sense. Basically, David was being a dumb guy and he didn't go out to war when everyone was supposed to. Instead he sent all his men out to fight and stayed home. In verse 2 of chapter 11 we're told that David got out of his bed one evening and went walking on the roof. Now honestly what on earth was he doing? David was definitely not in the place that he should have been. I don't know how he rationalized staying home from the war, but I'm sure he was convinced in his own mind that it was a good idea. That night he saw a woman bathing and long story short he ended up getting her pregnant. Instead of owning up to his mistakes, David tried to hide them. He called the woman's husband home from the war and tried to send him home to her to cover up his sin. Potentially he could trick the man into thinking that the baby was his and ta-da! David's mistake would go away for forever. Unfortunately for David, God doesn't let us hide our sins by covering them with bandaids. Uziah, the man who's wife David got pregnant, was probably one of the coolest guys in the Bible. He got a night off of war but he chose to stay uncomfortable to be in unity with his fellow soldiers. What a guy, honestly. Rest is needed, we all get tired and need a day off. But, Uziah knew that his day off was when the rest of the army got to go home. He didn't quit early and enjoy a night at home even when he could have. The self control that that must have taken is insane. 

Mark 1:35

Mark 1:35
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.”

Its pretty well known that I don’t like mornings. My poor family had to deal with it for almost 18 years as each morning I would wake up and glare at anyone who tried to have a conversation with me. My mom once told me that everyone had decided to not talk to me for the first hour after I came out of my room. Yikes. Honestly, it’s the dumbest thing. I mean, what reason do I really have to wake up and immediately be mad? The Lord’s mercies are new every morning and that alone is reason to have a good attitude about being awake. But if I’m being totally honest, I think the biggest reason why I hated mornings so much was because of their focus on me. I didn’t want to wake up, so I snoozed my alarm as many times as possible. I didn’t want to face the responsibilities of that day so I stayed in bed until I absolutely could not avoid getting up. I didn’t want to be real with people so I used social media as a way of escape before I even got out of bed. The list could go on, but that’d be boring. My point is that my mornings were so filled with self that I could never just enjoy the life the Lord gave me. The joy I should have had wasn’t there simply because my eyes were on myself and not my Lord. Doing a devo every day was a habit before Ignite, but it was never ever done early in the morning. Ever. And considering that in my house, 7 people live together, “desolate place” is a foreign concept to me. No matter which room you’re in, at least one other person could walk in at any second. However, since being in Ignite, the Lord has been changing my heart towards mornings. While I still don’t like them and would rather start my day later, I now see value in being up early in order to spend time with the Lord. For any reason other than being with Jesus, I still think being up early is dumb. But like I said, there is value in waking up to spend time with the Lord before your day starts and the benefits of that far outweigh the cost of losing some sleep.