Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stepping Into What God Calls You

What is the name God is calling you that you're afraid to step into? What is God call you that He placed in you that you don't see yet?

I've had those two questions running through my head for a few weeks. I started reflecting on them after reading the story of Gideon in Judges 6 & 7. Gideon's story isn't a long run in Scripture, but it has some powerful lessons for us.

Judges 6:1-16 is the passage I was reading when these questions formed in my mind. I'm only going to include a couple of verses here, but you can read the passage in its entirety here if you want.

"When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said: The Lord is with you mighty warrior." (Judges 6:12)

After stating how he didn't see how God was with Israel (Judges 6:13), Gideon protests the name Mighty Warrior.

"Pardon me, my Lord, Gideon replied, but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family." (Judges 6:15)

Not only could Gideon not see how God was with His people, he didn't believe what God had to say about him with the name God used.

Granted, from a human perspective, Gideon was right. His human perspective couldn't see God and definitely wouldn't see his hiding in a winepress as being a mighty warrior. I suspect we'd all feel the same way in a similar situation.

But, God isn't limited by our human perspective. He sees beyond it. He sees what He has placed in us.

In the moment when he was first called a mighty warrior, Gideon didn't look it or feel it, but God knew that was what he was going to become. So God called Gideon a mighty warrior - He called out what He knew was in Gideon and called Gideon to step into it.

I think God does the same thing with us. He uses the people He places around us to call us to step into what He has for us.

We may not see in ourselves what someone is calling out in us. We might protest what we hear and have our own list of reasons why we're not the person that is being called out in us.

The question is whether we'll respond or not. Gideon protested and asked for proof it was God, but eventually stepped into the name he was called. And Gideon is no remembered in Scripture as a mighty warrior.

What about us?
Will we respond by stepping it it, even if we're not sure yet?
Or will we run from it, because we're not sure yet?

Like Gideon, our choice determines the life we'll live and how we will be remembered.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Finding Freedom

When I cried out
You heard my cry
And You rescued me
You freed me from my chains

You pulled me to my feet
You taught me to walk again
You steadied my unsure legs
As I began to move again

Now I am free to run
To dance and sing and celebrate
Nothing holding me back
Nothing to hold me down

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How do You Respond to Hearing God's Word?

Take a look around you . . .

How many Bibles do you see?

Where are they sitting? The floor? A table? A shelf?

How long since they were last opened?

I'm not trying to make you feel guilty, but I do want to challenge you today, the way I've been challenged recently.

This one starts with a book my three year old niece signed out of our church library. I've read a lot of different stories to her, but, while I don't mind reading most of them, I'm not used to them being anything other than stories to me - some familiar, some not. To say I was a little surprised when the one I was reading to her began to challenge might be an understatement.

I went home later that evening still thinking about it. The story was a simple one about a kid who lost his Bible and hadn't been treating it well, and why he should treat it better once he found it. As I sat at home that evenings, I counted at least 10 Bibles on the shelf by my chair, another on a table, and there's one in my office at work. And then, who knows how many available through the Bible app on my phone. All of them used at some point or other - some more than others.

I left the thoughts about it at that, until I was reading in Nehemiah  a couple weeks later, when I couple of verses prompted the thoughts again.

To set the scene a bit: Nehemiah had returned to Jerusalem and had led the rebuilding of the wall, with the other exiles that had returned. It was now complete and they had been re-establishing the residents of the city. All who could understand had gathered to hear Ezra, the priest, read the Law of Moses aloud.

Nehemiah 8:5-6 says:
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (emphasis mine)

When Israel heard God's Word being read they stood to their feet and then they bowed low in worship of God.

When I read those words, all the questions I had asked a couple weeks ago cam flooding back.

It was different for Israel because they didn't each own their own copies of God's Word, but I began to wonder if we could learn something their response to God's Word. Something I wonder if we've lost with all our easy and immediate access to Bibles today. Something I've lost.

How do I treat God's Word?

How do I respond to it being read?

The Bible is God's Word to us. God speaking to us through it - into our lives today.

But, maybe I've gotten so used to it being always available I've forgotten what a privilege it is to have it so easily accessible to me?

Maybe it's become so commonplace in my life I don't treat it the way I should?

I'm not saying our Bibles should be objects we worship. But, I do wonder if the way we treat them can, at least sometimes, be a reflection of the value we're placing on God's Words to us? Maybe there is value in us reflecting on the way we treat the Bibles we have and whether that reflects the value we place on it, or if there's some inconsistency there we need to deal with.

How does my heart respond to hearing God's Word?

Maybe it won't be the right place to physically stand and then bow low in worship in response to God's Word, but even then, we still can in our hearts.

What is the attitude and response of your heart to hearing God's Word?

Is how you treat your Bible (or Bibles) a reflection of that? Should it be?

Do you need to change something here?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Speak Lord

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
Seeking Your guidance
Desiring to know Your ways

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
Pursuing You
To know You more

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
Teach me to hear
To recognize what You say

Speak Lord
Your servant is listening
I want to follow You
To obey what You have to say

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What Does it Mean that we Shouldn't Judge?

Does the Bible really say "Do not judge"?
Or, are we taking a few words that are part of a larger teaching and using them out of context?

It's something we hear often in Christian circles or even thrown at us by non-Christians. "You're not supposed to judge." I believe we're actually misunderstanding and, as a result misquoting, Scripture here.

What does the Bible actually say?

(I realize this next part is quoting a fair bit of Scripture one after another, but without them the rest of the post won't make as much sense. Please read through the passages.)

"Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly." -John 7:24

"Do not judge, or you to will be judged. For in the same way you judge other, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother's eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." -Matthew 7:1-5

"Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block in the way of a brother or sister." -Romans 14:13

"Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart." -1 Corinthians 4:5

"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. . . . Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else." -Galatians 6:1 & 4

As I read these passages of Scripture and look at them within the overall message of Scripture, I wonder if, in saying that all of these passages say "do not judge," we're missing what the bigger picture is. All of these passages say we need to be looking at our own lives first, before we say anything to another brother or sister in Christ.

We're not being told that we shouldn't say something to another believer about and area where things might need to changed in their lives. We're being cautioned to make sure we've been dealing with our own stuff first. We can't and shouldn't call others on their stuff if we're avoiding dealing with the stuff in our own lives.

Our job is also not to look for areas where we can point out the sin or other issue in the life of another believer. We're not supposed to be going hunting for those things. If that's what we're doing, then people may be right in telling us not to judge.

All of these passages also speak to situations with another believer. We're not told to do the same with those who don't claim to be Christians - only with other Christians.

To go back to the question I asked at the beginning: Does the Bible actually say "Do not judge"?

I think that is just a small part of what Scripture actually says, and to only quote that part misses the point. It's not about never saying something to another believer - it's about making sure we're dealing with our own stuff first, and not running around looking for things to call our in the life of another Christian.