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Hungry

Junk piling

Remember the old adage “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.” Meaning; hunger, and thirst will pile stuff in the cart we do not need. Although that is a good plan for shopping and our budget, yet it does not apply when coming to the Lord. Multiple times, by many authors, using different metaphorical imagery, scripture tells us to come to God hungry and thirsty!

Jesus teaching the crowd says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) This is not only a promise but an invitation. And again, in John 7, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (v37) King David, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for you...” (Psalm 63:1a)

Have we noticed after dinner, when relaxing and watching TV, when a commercial comes on of a giant juicy burger, since we just ate and fully content – it has no appeal! So, taking that concept, if we are not hungry or thirsty for God – WHAT fills us? What throughout our day are we snacking on? What or who ruins our appetite for God? A good way to gauge when something is wrong or not healthy is when we lose our appetite altogether. It is the same with the presence of God and our lack of interest in His word.

Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” Our bodies were made of the dust – earth – organic matter. The soul was not made of the earth. So, earthly things cannot quench the hunger of the soul. It is ONLY the breath of God that feeds and nurtures the spiritual man! It is divinely birthed and divinely maintained. God initiated this for mankind, now we by invitation, in turn, seek that breath.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)

What are we filling ourselves with? (Point to ponder).

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Deep

deep

When researching a topic for Bible study, I got squirreled and have no idea how I came upon an article that spoke of deep drilling known as ‘fracking.’ Intrigued. Before I knew it, I was knee deep in engineering terminology, dirt, rocks and water. This information however would soon become quite valuable.

Over the course of the last few months, even a year (or seven) my fire and passion for God has increased and after reading these articles I see God is doing Spiritual fracking in me. Industrially, it is defined (in short) as using large quantities of water under pressure to fracture rock, creating cracks, thus releasing the valuable substance of natural gas or petroleum.

With the emphasis of fracking being under pressure, I feel God has been using large quantities of His Spirit under pressure to pierce, crack and smash through my below the surface, rocky places.

God is not in the business of simply white washing over us, He is in the business of deep work. From the inside out. Paul speaks of this: “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering (God fracking) produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4 Emphasis mine of course) What process, what PURPOSE!

The word Paul uses to mix with this process is fascinating. The word for suffering (other translations: tribulation, trials and problems) literally means pressure, to squeeze. Paul says pressure produces the ability to remain in and under. Liken to holding tight a bandage over a deep wound, so you don’t bleed out. Pressure applied secures and holds the process in place. It is here where grace abounds!  It is here we grow, where His Spirit is released in and through us and here character is built. Paul talks of the consistent struggle between the flesh and God’s Spirit in us and yielding and allowing full access of the Spirit in our lives, matures His qualities in us, expressed as the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:6-26).

How often do we go to any lengths to escape pressure? May we not wiggle out from under it and literally sabotage our own growth process. I may not invite all this, but I am learning to not refuse it, all that I am, all that I do. I am allowing a deep dealing, deep drilling and deep dwelling of the Spirit of God.  You?

Deep.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

*Please know, in my reading, I am aware of the controversy of fracking to the environment, I am only emphasizing the value of it’s method in the environment of my heart.

Flexible Bending

whats new

One time at Bible Study, as the gals were coming in, I handed them each a colored card with a number on it.   The only instruction given, “Find your number at a table that corresponds and that will be your seat for tonight.” Feeling like a Flight Attendant, I did so with a big smile, (yet refrained from the urge to nod and quote the “B-bye, B-bye”).

To make things just a bit more interesting, I changed the furniture around as well and moved the snacks and drinks to different locations. What they were being told did not match what was familiar. What they were used to, the routine, what was comfortable was indeed different. Yes, that night at bible study was unique for sure.

We were studying the book of Hebrews and I wanted them (if not only in a very small way) to understand what the Jewish Christians may have experienced. They too were being told to do something different, what was routine had now been changed, their comfortable was being challenged.

The Pastor of Hebrews taught that regardless of tradition and what their comfortable religious belief and routine were, (Moses and all) Jesus is much more excellent! His covenant and promises – BETTER. He as High Priest and His blood sacrifice – greater and more perfect than the lifestyle steeped in rituals. THIS ran the Jewish Pastors fingernails across the Torah blackboard; it hit a nerve, contrary to all they had been taught.

Yes, different. They (and our women) had to believe that this ‘NEW’ was a good thing. They were learning to be flexible, to bend to the God stuff, embrace and have a change of heart – trusting Jesus over ancient law and tradition.

Perhaps on a smaller scale, we are being challenged, God is calling us to something new, a lil unfamiliar and unknown, taking us beyond our routine and having us embrace His stuff – and it is good.

Flexible bending.

The Joy of the Lord

heart in bible

“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10   This verse is often quoted as encouragement and rightly so. A few years ago, I read an article written by a Messianic Rabbi, he wrote with a slightly different perspective of this verse. Intrigued, I delved into the story and discovered for myself.

Beautiful.

In the day of Ezra and Nehemiah, after a lengthy captivity in Babylon, they returned with a group of Jewish exiles to their homeland of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s role was to lead the people in rebuilding the walls of the city. There was great (not so kind) opposition from the neighboring folks, half the men stood guard while the other half worked on the wall, it was an all hands on the wall event, each family working on their assigned section.

Upon the completion of the wall, Ezra brought out the written law of Moses. As he opened it, ALL the people stood up, it had been years seen they had seen it or heard it. As Ezra read and praised the Lord, the people were so overwhelmed; they bowed their faces to the ground weeping as they worshipped. What an agonizing tender moment. They were realizing just how far they had gone from their God – their covenant God. At this moment, in this is realization, it is here Ezra and Nehemiah declare to them, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep…” Nehemiah continues, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-10)

A people who were once far off had now come home. Not only geographically, but home to their God. They labored side by side for one cause, their hearts rendered open when hearing God’s word. HERE, God-was-pleased. He found joy in their unity, in their renewed awareness of Him. God in His everlasting love and mercy was no longer to be feared in their disobedience and apathy, He was joyful of and for them. Nehemiah was telling the people, “Oh find strength in knowing God is pleased with you, He finds JOY in YOU!” It is His joy, your strength.

How many of us glance over our shoulder and see the mess behind us, we see our straying, our lack of God. When we do come home, repentant and gaining a fresh awareness of HIM, we want only to bow our head in disgrace. Oh beloved, “Do not grieve!” God is the God of our now! By all means, worship – bow low!  But.  At some point, RAISE YOUR HEAD! Be strengthen, He is pleased, He is overjoyed. Be strengthened that He finds joy in YOU!

Welcome home.

The joy of the LORD is your strength. His joy, your strength.

Beautiful.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

 

The Boat Ride

The Boat ride

After Jesus sends the disciples out ‘two by two’, sometime later they returned. Returning from teaching, healing and delivering the people.  They must have been extremely worn out and with people all around, Jesus tells them, “Come with Me by
yourself to a quiet place and get some rest
.” (Mark 6:31) This is much different from their last documented boat ride (Mark 4) in which the story includes a monstrous storm, frantic disciples and Jesus standing and commanding. (Read the story Here ). But not today.  There is no storm. There was no hesitation either – not even Peter saying with waved hands, “Um, well, the last time we did this ‘get in the boat thing’ – it wasn’t pretty!”  But both scenarios have one common factor – Jesus.

Notice Jesus was very specific. He didn’t say ‘Go away – take some time off – I’ll see you on the other side.’ He wasn’t offering options. He said, “Come with Me.” The narrative doesn’t say it, but picture with me – THIS boat ride: They, being exhausted, now all settled down, with no joking, no high energy retelling of events.  Quiet. Perhaps just quiet and the lapping of the water on the boat – and Jesus.
Presence.

When first reading this story, it can be interpreted that the destination was the place of rest – BUT, just as quickly as the authors pen lifts and presses down, that destination was flooded with thousands of folks, when the boat landed, the crowd was waiting. Jesus full of passion for His mission and compassion towards the people teaches them and soon hands the broken bread and fish to the disciples to feed them.

Granted, a place of solitude, with served comfort foods would be fabulous, but sometimes it is the boat ride.  Sometimes, it’s the car ride to the store.  Sometimes it’s the brief breather between meetings as we walk around the block to stretch our legs, sometimes it’s the shutting of the bathroom door while our lil tribe awaits just beyond and sometimes it’s standing at the kitchen window remembering to breathe – and Jesus.

Getting ready (for the next thing) means getting rest – in His Presence, (may be brief) and perhaps, on the way – rest.

Come with Me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.”

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Suspicious Kindness

Act of Kindness

It was the summer of 1983, I was home between semesters of my bible college days, I was standing behind the counter of my father’s fast food restaurant, when a small boy reaching his arm up, releases a fist full of coins onto the counter.  His warm freckle-faced smile could light up a dark-paneled room.  Raising his eyes to mine, he simply stated, “A vanilla cone please.” Looking at the coins still rolling on the counter, I knew he didn’t have enough. Taking my index finger, I began counting the coins. When there was none left to be counted, the boy’s face grew very solemn. He too knew it wasn’t enough. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a couple more coins and placed them alongside his own.

His response shocked me. With a suspicious look, he again reached forward and began to pull his coins back. I sweetly told him, it was okay, he now had enough. With a slight pause as if struggling against his better judgment, his smile returned, and I quickly scooped the coins up and proceeded to make him the LARGEST ‘small’ cone I have ever made complete with a curly-Q top.  That moment impacted me and has never been forgotten.

Suspicious kindness, sad isn’t it.  Much of the time we are not used to receiving kindness; our first reaction is a pause – question the motive, and then oftentimes, refusal. Kindness disorients us, with instant worry there HAS to be something wrong, or “WAIT, what do you want in return?” Our society has become so ‘ME’ focused, to think on behalf of another with goodness takes great concentration, not to mention potential risk. For some, to be kind is a sign of weakness.

The Apostle Paul speaks directly to the qualities that do not (notice the NOT) come naturally to us, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, CSB, emphasis mine) we are not born with them; they are a CHOICE, day-to-day, moment-by-moment ‘putting on‘ choice.

Kindness is the softer side of mankind, the God in us peeking through with love and mercy. It is described by scholars that kindness is the inner heart attitude of gentleness, and then goodness takes over and acts on the heart attitude. I see it in the word picture of one walking by a blind man holding a charitable cup for money. The HEART sees the man, the heart feels the man, the heart responds with God to the man, filling his cup. Love, kindness, and goodness all go together.  Love sees, kindness feels, and goodness does.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading Jewish Theologian had this to say about kindness, “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people, as I grow old, I admire kind people.” Kindness does not require a return on our investment. It is self-less-ness. We see, we feel, we do (In Jesus’ name).

May we all be challenged to be kind beyond ourselves, remembering that WE have been bathed in God’s kindness and goodness.  We take an extra moment to listen, find more coins in our pocket, open more doors, whatever is needed at the moment, in the moment – nothing is worse than  ‘Should’ve‘ hind-sight.  Like the little boy with the ice cream, he now has ENOUGH! God uses US in the enough equation.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Be Still and Know God

Be still

 

Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) Yet if put alongside the reality of my life, most of the time my life reflects, “Be busy and know that I am tired!” Can I get an “AMEN!”   Psalm 46:10, one of the most quoted and beloved verses of the Bible, but do we really understand its context or meaning? Scholars propose it was written during the tense warfare between Judah and the Ammonites and Moabites. Jehoshaphat and crew were terrified of the reported impending war. In short, Jehoshaphat called the people to pray and fast, God’s response was “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15) The next morning, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing and praise – LONG story short, in their worship, God intervened and Judah victorious, ‘for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.’ (v27)

Psalm 46. The Psalmist writing under the inspiration of God, writes 10 of the 11 verses of the psalm from the 3rd person perspective, talking about God. The wet ink encourages that even in natural disasters and national uproar, “Come and see the works of the LORDHe makes… He breaks…” (v8,9) Then in verse 10, the writing changes. It is now from the 1st person – I. It is as if God caused the writer to pause, whispering in his ear, tell them, “Rapah yada Elohim” (Hebrew) “Be still and know that I am God.” Powerful.

When studying the scriptures, looking at the original language and grammar gives us some great insight and some amazing principles to pull forward and apply for our own pending circumstances. Although originally there were no punctuation marks, but when added to the original usage and read in context – reading from a modern Jewish Bible, our verse reads: “Be still! Know! God.” This phrase holds two imperative verbs, meaning they are both commands, thus, Be still! Know!

God commands us to know Him. That means it is entirely possible, desirable and (wait for it) yes… expected. But not only this, but the 1st verb (be still) POINTS to the 2nd – KNOW! We are still IN ORDER to know God. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it reads: “Desist and learn that I am God.” And the NASB, ‘Cease striving.’ STOP! It isn’t a slowing down, or I’ll get to it when it is convenient. STOP. It is a priority! God is first! God loves full stop – it is here that He had Judah’s frantic ‘WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!’ attention. It is in the STOP He has our attention.

God is not asking us to be quiet (although that DOES help) Location is not a huge factor (however, a quiet place contributes) Nor is our physical posture the ‘make it or break it’ element (Yet, face down, does have “I can’t see the distractions” with my face on the carpet, benefits). But He does tell us, it’s not about our circumstance – it is all about HIM. “The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 20:29)

Be still and know that I am God.   “Be still – Know – God.”