2/11/16

Unplug and Be Still

Stressed and struggling last week, I turned to my cell phone for relief. I perused a couple of blog posts, scanned my friends' Facebook status posts and played a game of Solitaire.

I felt relaxed ... a bit. And then I heard this voice: "You will not come to me. I want to give you rest."

I recognized that loving, chastising voice. It was the Spirit of God speaking to my heart. The true rest I sought was in the Lord and His Word.

Dr. David Jeremiah made a valid point in his Turning Point devotional today, "Be Still." We are losing our ability, he said, to be still and know our God. 

The prophet Isaiah wrote,
"In returning and rest you shall be saved; 
in quietness and confidence shall be your strength" 
(Isaiah 30:15).

It's a crazy-busy world out there.
We have to learn to retreat from the world into a retreat with the Lord.
It's not that we need to toss our technology, but it needs to be in the proper place in our lives.

As Dr. Jeremiah said, "...keep your phone, but unplug it long enough to be still and know that He is God."

Resting with the Lord is always a wise choice!

Are you struggling, stressed, in need of rest? What can you do RIGHT NOW to find your rest in God?

2/9/16

God Defines Marriage, Not Us!

I admire the courage of those who, in spite of the pull of the culture, adhere to and promote the truth of the timeless Word of God and don't attempt to "fit" the scriptures to the changing morals and ethics of society.

Either God is God or He is not; and He has the right to define, describe and command anything pertaining to how we are to live.

I read this quote today by Dr. David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and the preacher on Turning Point radio and television: "Though the world comes along with fads and new ideas, we owe our allegiance to a higher power, Almighty God ...."

Many people get hung up there. They neither feel or pledge any allegiance to the Creator God of the Bible.

The Psalmist wrote, "Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his" (Psalm 100:3a). The Lord has the right to do as He pleases with His creation. It is pride that causes us to refuse His authority.

Dr. Jeremiah continued, reminding us that it was God "... who invented marriage and put it into operation back in Genesis.

Marriage goes back to the creation of the first man and woman (Genesis 2:20b-24), and the marriage relationship truly is a wonderful "invention."  (Marriages that are not wonderful owe their pain and struggle to our selfish sin nature.)

May we always choose according to the scriptures, and not try to redefine, subtract from or add to what God has already clearly defined.

2/3/16

The Power of the Tiny "Yes"

I read a post by Sharon Jaynes at the Girlfriends with God blog. In "Big Assignments Begin with

Tiny "Yeses," Sharon shares how she got into ministry. It's not what most people would expect.

She said countless "yeses" to what many people would consider insignificant, even demeaning tasks (like cleaning bathrooms at a ministry office).

Her life was a lot like the humble shepherd boy, David, who was found faithful in the little things. God was preparing David to lead an entire nation!

I know just what Sharon means. More than 40 years ago, I said "yes" to going to a revival team when they had nothing but a desire to see revival in America. And I mean nothing. Not even a vehicle to transport us to churches!

People thought I was crazy, but it turned out to be a wonderful and exciting time of discovering more about God and ministering in churches.

I've had my share of other humble beginnings before the Lord gave me bigger tasks to do. I was determined to honor God in each situation, and He blessed me every time.

I like what Sharon said:

"We don't obey God in the seemingly small assignments in order to get the bigger ones. However, God will never entrust someone with a big assignment who has not proved herself trustworthy in the small. ... Big assignments begin with a thousand tiny 'yeses.' Small steps of obedience become beautiful sweeping moves of faith."

I don't think we realize the power of the tiny "yes."
  • It releases us from fears.
  • It brings us freedom and peace, knowing we are in God's will.
  • It motivates us to take the next step... and the next.
  • It sets us up for great adventures with God.
In her book, Following God One Yes at a Time*, author Connie Cavanaugh wrote:

"Following Him (the Lord) requires the simple trust and immediate obedience of a child who believes God will make the way to Him simple, immediate and possible." 

Just a thought . . . is NOT following the Lord a sign we are afraid to trust or too stubborn to obey? And if He is Lord, why would we NOT trust and obey by saying "yes"? (Luke 6:46)

Connie describes six barriers to saying "yes"  fear, pride, guilt, shame, comparison and doubt.

Yes, I recognize some of those in my own life:
  • The assignment I didn't take because I was afraid I'd fail.
  • The task I thought was "beneath" me because it "wasn't my spiritual gift."
  • Remembering how I'd failed the Lord in the past.
  • Thinking I could never do the job as well as someone else.
  • And questioning God's call, wondering, "Lord, are you sure you've got the right gal?"
But you know something?
Whenever I've said "yes" to the Lord, He has opened up new adventures I never could have dreamed of myself
It's been an exciting way to live.

Some yeses are easier than others, but God is always faithful. 

And He rewards us for our faithfulness (Matthew 25:21: Luke 16:10a; 1 Corinthians 4:2).

The little "yes" you think might not amount to much might be the very door that could lead you into a ministry you could never imagine. Don't despise small beginnings! 

But even if a new door doesn't open, remember this:  God notices every faithful yes, and someday, He will likely say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21)

Is the Lord asking you to follow Him in a new task today? Will you say "yes" to Him? If not, why?

 * Connie Cavanaugh, Following God One Yes At a Time (Harvest House Publishers, 2011) p. 14.

1/22/16

From Painful to Purposeful

Pain. It hurts. No use denying it. And on the surface, our recurring problems make no sense at all.

I know so many who experience "chronic pain" and "chronic problems" every day. For some, it is intense physical pain. For others, it's emotional pain. Or relational, financial, or even spiritual problems that just won't go away.

The persistence of that pain or problem is like the steady, irritating drip of a faucet. We want to shut

off the pain ... but again and again it hits us. We struggle to stay steady.

It is at times like, some these people give us well-meaning platitudes. God love 'em, many can't understand the depths of our very personal pain. Their quick "I'll pray for you" makes us wonderwill they? Really?

We may be in such pain we reject their caring words. Or we refuse to believe what they share from God's Word. We hurt too much.
The truth is, our pain may be an opportunity.
Ongoing pain and persistent problems are like mentors who come alongside to teach us something new and important, something we might not learn any other way. In our weakened, frustrated state, we're often primed to hear from God—to hear what He may want us to know about Himself ... or ourselves.

But are we teachable in that moment?

I've dealt with health issues lately that seem to be stacking up, rather than healing. In frustration, I questioned God, my roles, my ministryso many things. I wept in God's presence and asked, "Why, Lord?"

My update:
The problems are still lingering.
But my heart is changing.

Two choices are making a difference:

(1) I decided to thank God for the problem. He does tell us to thank Him in (not for) all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18); and this is a step of faith when we don't know how things will turn out.

(2) I'm allowing the Lord to tutor me in some key areas of need. I'm asking Him to open my heart, to open my eyes, and to speak truth into my mind (Psalm 119:18).

Once I started saying, "Thank you," and asked God for a teachable spirit, I felt new freedom. And I got a fresh new perspective on life.

This shouldn't have surprised me. Once we get God's perspective, we're better able to face whatever comes.

We discover "...our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18 NIV).

I found hope in these encouraging words:

"So we're not giving up. How could we! 
Even though on the outside
it often looks like things are falling apart on us, 
on the inside, where God is making new life, 
not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. 
These hard times are small potatoes 
compared to the coming good times, 
the lavish celebration prepared for us. 
There's far more here than meets the eye. 
The things we see now are here, today, 
gone tomorrow. 
But the things we can't see now 
will last forever" 
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18, The Message).

Our pain, our problems (our "light affliction") are "small potatoes" compared to what God is producing in us through our afflictions to make us more like Christ (Romans 8:29) and to prepare us for a "lavish celebration" someday, the "eternal weight of glory" (v. 17, ESV) we will have in heaven.

Did you get that comparison?

          "Light affliction"  ... here
                    versus
          a heavier "weight" of glory ... in heaven! 

Sometimes our afflictions seem so heavy, but the Apostle Paul wants us to remember their counterweight in eternity. God's purpose for us is far heavier. He is getting rid of the dross and refining our lives for His purposes (Proverbs 17:3; Isaiah 48:10; Zechariah 13:9;1 Peter 1:7).

We can say with the patriarch Job:
"... he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold" (23:10, ESV).

I'm thankful our Father has not left us alone in our earthly struggles. He gives us daily "unfolding grace" to face each challenge. What does that grace look like?
Yes, I believe there is more going on behind the scenes with our pain and problems.

God has a great purpose for us, and He wants us to rest in Him as He accomplishes that purpose in and through us.

What are you struggling with today? Can you ask the Lord to help you say "thank you," and to perhaps show you a glimpse of His purposes in your pain?

Graphic: adapted, "Unbalanced Scales," 
Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

12/19/15

Christmas: Dispelling the Darkness

One of the blessings of Christmas is: Jesus came to dispel our darkness!

My name is Dawn. People used to tease me when I approached saying, "Comes the Dawn" or "Oh, I see it finally dawned on you!" Probably because of my name, for as long as I can remember, I've looked up Bible verses about "the dawn" or "light."

Some of these scriptures creep into my thinking during the Christmas season, because Christmas is a season of Great Light.


That little baby boy, born in a manger in Bethlehem, was and is the Light of the World (John 8:12). His life is "the life that is the light of men," John said (1:4, 9). 

The wonder of God's plan is: the light of God's Son shines in and dispels the darkness (John 1:4-5).

Isaiah told God's people, "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them" (Isaiah 9:2).

God's people looked for that light. And one day it came.

Matthew wrote,
"The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, 
and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, 
upon them a light dawned" (Matthew 4:16). 

Jesus was that "great light!"

And Jesus' desire for His disciples  and for all Christ-followers  is that we embrace and reflect His light to others. His light is all that He is: His person, character and purposes.

So Christ-followers are "the light of the world" too (Matthew 5:14a).
We have Jesus' light within us, and when we allow Him to shine out through us, our good works will bless others as we glorify our Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16).
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Make no mistake. Without Jesus' light, we would all walk in darkness forever. Even our good works would be like dirty rags before Him (Isaiah 64:6). We would practice sin (1 John 1:5-6; John 3:19-21) and dishonor the Lord.

But if we have trusted Christ — if we are IN Him — we are now "light in the Lord" and are instructed by the Apostle Paul to "WALK as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).

We "walk" by demonstrating the Light of the Lord in countless practical ways.
For instance, we can:

  1. Mow a lawn for a widow
  2. Sing joyfully in the choir
  3. Make a meal for a shut-in
  4. Encourage a prisoner with a note or card
  5. Share wise counsel with a friend who asks for help
  6. Pray for a friend's healing
  7. Run errands for an elderly person
  8. Take care of a young mom's children so she can rest
  9. Tell a neighbor our testimony of faith

These are everyday demonstrations of Jesus' light in the world.

And in these dark times in the world, it's crucial we walk in His light.

  • We do this when we stand for truth in the midst of lies and confusion. 
  • Or when we suffer for righteousness as Jesus would or even endure persecution for His name. 
  • Or when we cling to holiness when many around us compromise their purity. 
  • And when we seek and praise God — even when it's not politically correct.

The truth is, our light can (and should) shine the brightest 
when our circumstances are darkest. 

When we don't know where our next meal will come from, yet we trust the Lord to provide. When we lose our job, but know our Father will care for us. When our health fails, and we still can sing a song of faith. When a loved one is taken from us, but we still choose to trust our good, faithful God.

One of the many messages of Christmas is this: Jesus came to dispel our darkness. Ultimately, He came to show us how to spread the light of this good news to a world still struggling in the dark.

Are you "light in the Lord"? Are you walking as a "child of light"?