Tuesday, January 24, 2012

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the
one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-seeing, then why
should we need to ask Him for the things we need?

You know what? God does know what we need before we ask or
even realize we need it. He knows what is best for us, even when we don’t. But
He waits for us to ask Him for our needs before answering for many reasons.

1. Asking fosters trust.

When an infant cries and its parents respond in a timely and
consistent fashion, a bond of trust develops. In the same way, we learn to trust God when we
cry to Him and He meets our needs. If I don't ask, I never learn to trust Him.

2. Asking fosters our personal growth.

I chuckle when my daughter tells her kids to "use their
words" when they want something. Most of the time she understands their
gestures or childish grunts, but by making them articulate what they need, she helps
them to grow in their communication skills.

Often we don't know what we really want or need from God. We
react emotionally to circumstances, people or pain rather than responding to
God’s presence in our lives. “Using our words” helps us work through the strong
emotions to an understanding of what we really need from our heavenly Father. We
grow up in Him.

3. Asking keeps the lines of communication open with God.

Little children go through a “Why?” phase, constantly asking
questions. Then they hit puberty and suddenly their parents don’t know anything
at all. Thankfully, they outgrown that phase too and as adults they come to appreciate
their parents’ wisdom. They begin asking
the more honest questions on their hearts which fosters a deeper relationship
based on mutual respect, trust and love. And so it is between us and our
heavenly Father.

Lord, help me to trust you enough to ask the raw, innermost,
honest questions of my heart. Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Joy in the hard places

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you
face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith
produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 NIV

There comes a point in each trial or crisis - a rock-bottom
place - when we are forced to make a
decision. We decide either to let the trial defeat us or to let it better

If we succumb to the pain of the crisis, bitterness begins
to grow in our hearts, eventually darkening our spirits. But a decision to
fight back against the trial brings hope and even a glimmer of joy.

Salvation is a good example of this. Did you know that 99%
of Christians accepted Christ during a moment of crisis or great trial? Think
back to when you first made the decision to accept Christ.

When we make the decidion to let trials change us / grow us,
we begin to experience a sense of our Heavenly Father with us He is the bright
spot in the midst of the pain and grief. He begins to massage our hearts with
the oil of gladness with a sweet aroma that permeates even the most difficult

The events or circumstances around us might not change, but
our hearts and attitudes do - we experience the joy of relationship with Christ
in the midst of our sorrows.

Father, whenever I am going through a crisis in my life,
help me to choose to reach out to your healing, hope and joy. Help me to cling
to that hope and joy no matter how long it takes to get through the trial/

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Expections and judgements

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV

Childish giggles drifted down the stairs, bringing a smile to my daughter's lips. The two youngest children were playing well together in their bedrooms - at least for the moment.

A few minutes later a large thud rocked the house, coming from the upstairs bedroom area. My daughter tensed, waiting for the ear-splitting shriek that would surely follow. When nothing happened, she sent her oldest daughter to be sure no one was hurt.

As Eve peered into the girls' bedroom, her three year old sister Katie looked up at her from the floor, thinking she was in trouble. "I can espain...," she said. "I was trying to fly."

At one time or other, we all try to fly and most of us learn the hard way that we can't.

So why do we expect that others can fly; or read our minds to know exactly what we need when we need it; or perform some other impossible human behaviors - and then judge them harshly when they fail?.

Lord, I don't like being judged when I fail someone. Help me not to judge others either. Amen.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Spiritual renovations and touchups for the New Year

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

I love watching those TV home makeover programs – especially the ones where they do renovations on a very low budget. It forces the design team to get creative – buying used furniture and recycling the pieces into interesting and serviceable new pieces. They also take inexpensive materials and build custom pieces like headboards or artwork for the walls.

At the hands of skilled carpenters, old cabinets become armoires. With some sanding, recovered cushions and a few coats of paint, mismatched wooden chairs and tables look like they belong together. And with the addition of crystal beads, an old chandelier gets new life.

The key word here is “skilled.” These TV craftsmen know what they’re doing. They can see the potential in a piece of old furniture and they can envision what it will look like when it’s finished, in it’s newly redesigned space.

I look forward to the end of each show when they do the reveal to the home owner. Even if I wouldn’t want that style of make over in my house, I am always impressed at the way the room comes together.

In the same way, Jesus, the master craftsman, takes a broken life and redesigns it – cutting, sanding, reupholstering, painting it, until that old life is almost unrecognizable. It becomes brand new, with new purpose. The old life is no more. Those who see it are amazed at the transformation and beauty of the new life.

Even those of us who have been Christians for many years can stand a little (or a lot) of touchup work to keep our spiritual lives new and bright. Our polish get’s tarnished, the paint peels and our old nature starts showing through again. We’re a work in progress until the day we cross heaven’s threshold.

So, what areas of your life need a little heavenly renovation in this New Year?

Lord, the new year is a wonderful time to reexamine my heart to see what condition it is in. Help me to see those areas where I need some heavenly touchups from the Master Craftsman and help me to submit to your renovations so my life might be shiny and new again in your hands. Amen.