A Look of Faith

I love when the Lord is shouting a truth at me from His word, from several sources at the same time, by His Divine ordaining of reading the same description, the same use of scripture reference, from two different authors from different times, and different focus. But the truth is the same.

In the mornings, when I can steal longer than an hour for reflecting, praying, personal growth, and Bible study, I love to start with reading from ‘The Life and Work of Our Lord’ by Spurgeon. And right now, for personal growth, I’m also reading ‘Pursuit of God’ by AW Tozer. There is zero consistency to how many pages I read of each. And I’d begun reading the first about 3 years ago, and am halfway through, and I picked up the second a few months ago. But this morning, I am in two chapters that highlight the same Old Testament tale: the fiery serpents in the camp of the Israelites, found in Numbers 21:4-9.

What had happened? The Israelites were complaining…again. Hm, I think the Lord is speaking to me some more, because just yesterday evening the complaining of the Israelites about no food, just stinking manna, was part of the examples at a Bible study using a book called “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow. I have not read that book yet, but I will be picking it up to be a part of that monthly study.

So the lessons here for me are twofold. But the one I want to focus on actually happens second: the bronze serpent, the looking, the being healed. Spurgeon and Tozer both recognize the profound truth that Jesus expounded on when He said in John 3:13-16: “No one has ascended to heaven, but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Salvation comes through faith. And faith is simply looking.

“There is life in a look at Jesus; is not this simple enough?” Spurgeon writes. The mystery of knowing salvation, of being free from the price of sin and death, is bound up in a simple believing look. Tozer details the connection further: “Our plain man in reading this would make an important discovery. He would notice that ‘look’ and ‘believe’ were synonymous terms. ‘Looking’ on the Old Testament serpent is identical with ‘believing’ on the New Testament Christ. That is, the looking and the believing are the same thing. And he would understand that while Israel looked with their external eyes, believing is done with the heart. I think he would conclude that faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”

The gaze of the soul – what do I spend my time gazing upon? What fills my eyes, my looking, and then sinks into my heart, my believing? Am I ‘looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith’ or are my eyes turned downward on my stinking same old manna? Which brings me to my second point.

If I am truly turning my eyes to behold the Son lifted up, then I should be living a life healed and cured from discontent and complaining. God does not change: He still hates the ungrateful, complaining attitude just as much now as He did then. He might not send real serpents into our homes to bite us and remind us that we need His miraculous healing, but He does allow things in our lives that cause us to look up. I have to ask myself, what am I complaining about? Or am I so consumed with looking at my Savior that no irritations of this life can get me down? Lord, search me and know me. Show me where I’ve taken my eyes of faith off of You and turned them to my fiery snakes, my troubles, my problems.

But back to my main point, I just want to close with another quote from Spurgeon: “We are told in the text that ‘if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived;’ that is to say, he was healed at once. He had not to wait five minutes, nor five seconds…If you have lived in the blackest sin that is possible up to this very moment, yet if you will now believe in Jesus Christ you shall be saved before the clock ticks another time. Sanctification needs a lifetime, but justification needs no more than a moment. Thou believes, thou livest. Thou dost trust to Christ, thy sins are gone, thou art a saved man the instant thou believes. ‘Oh,’ saith one, ‘that is a wonder.’ It is a wonder, and will remain a wonder to all eternity.”

Do you get it yet? Just look to Jesus. Keep looking. And if you ever waiver in your faith, look at Him again. I have to say just one more thing through Spurgeon’s words: “Very possibly after a man had been healed he might go back to his work, and be attacked by a second serpent, for there were broods of them about. What had he to do? Why, to look again, and if he was wounded a thousand times he must look a thousand times. You, dear child of God, if you have sin on your conscience, look to Jesus.”

Look to Jesus, turn to Him,

Let Him heal you of your sin,

Look again, and just believe

On Christ’s gift at Calvary –

Keep on looking all your life

Don’t ever try to pay the price

The Son of Man has set you free

There is nothing you can bring

To add to salvation given

So set your eyes on the Lamb who is risen

And never ever look away

From His unending, amazing Grace.

(poem by Melissa Roland)

It’s Christmas! Time for the Impossible

cpic

So it’s Christmas again! Merry Christmas everyone! As I sat here Christmas Eve morning, I opened my favorite book, Absolute Surrender, by Andrew Murray, to randomly read a chapter this morning. The chapter I fell upon was “Impossible with man, possible with God.” That is the message of the virgin birth, the baby who is God, the focus of Christmas (at least in our home, and maybe in yours too). Jesus is the reason for the season, and the message is twofold: 1) For God so loved the world that He gave… and the second, just like the angel told Mary when bringing her the good news 2) For with God, nothing is impossible.

I am praying for family members and friends to give their lives to Jesus this Christmas. Because nothing is impossible with God. We are having close to 40 people coming over to show them love on Christmas Day – because nothing is impossible with God. My friend is praying for God to heal my shoulder, because nothing is impossible with God. I am praying for God to restore a friend’s marriage, for another friend’s paperwork, for another friend’s father who needs a kidney: and I bring all these requests to my Heavenly Father. Because nothing is impossible with God! He proved this over 2000 years ago when a virgin gave birth to Immanuel, God with us, Jesus, Savior of the world!

“Look at the birth of Jesus. That was a miracle of divine power, and it was said to Mary: ‘With God nothing shall be impossible.’ It was the omnipotence of God. Look at Christ’s resurrection. We are taught that it was according to the exceeding greatness of His mighty power that God raised Him from the dead….I want to call upon you now to come and worship an Almighty God. Have you learned to do it? Have you learned to deal so closely with an Almighty God that you know omnipotence is working in you?” (Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender)

I challenge you today and tomorrow to dwell on God’s amazing, incredible, all powerful ability to do anything and everything, far above what we can think or imagine. When you think about this, can you say you have submitted to Him, recognized the impossibility with you to make sense of life, and depend on the only One who can make all things possible? He is waiting for you to surrender your soul, your life, your will, your heart to Him, so that He can do an impossible work in you as well. He loves you, and He is ready to show you the amazing difference that can make in your life. Start at the manger. Go to the cross. And walk with God.

 

Coming Back to Surrender, part 2

God Works it in you…

“God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.”

Philippians 2:13 says ‘For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.’

“God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All those searchings and hungering and longings that are in your heart, I tell you they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived a life of absolute surrender, He has possession of you; He is living in your heart by His holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him terribly, but He desires to help you get hold of Him entirely.”

“And if you come and say: ‘Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender to my God,’ even though it will be with a trembling heart and with the consciousness: ‘I do not feel the power, I do not feel the determination, I do not feel the assurance,’ it will succeed. Be not afraid, but come just as you are, and even in the midst of your trembling the power of the Holy Ghost will work.”

“I ask, what has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way beyond what you expect. From the beginning ear hath not heard, neither hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait for Him [1 Corinthians 2:9-12]God has prepared unheard of things you can never think of [Ephesians 3:20-21]blessings much more wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive. They are divine blessings. Oh, say now: ‘I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God wants.’ It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender.’

 

all quotes from the book Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray…150px-Andrew_Murray.JPG

I Keep Coming Back to SURRENDER

I don’t know if I will ever stop coming back to Surrender. And I promise, I’ll be getting some blogging on our Israel trip back in February done, I’ll keep up the music news, and whatever other things are on my mind. But I think this will become a serious theme of this blog. And I want it to be a re-occuring theme in my life. As I’m reading that book ‘Surrender’ I talked about a couple of posts ago (go HERE for that) I picked up another book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while: ‘Absolute Surrender’ by Andrew Murray I have an older copy of it, given to me by dear friends in North Carolina long ago, and the front cover is falling off. But even though he wrote the book in 1897, over a hundred years ago, the words still ring so very true now. Here’s what happened in my journal as I read, and the quotes that jumped out of the pages right to my heart this morning:

April 2, 2016

(more words on surrender – these from Andrew Murray’s book “Absolute Surrender”)

“…your God in Heaven answers prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessings on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have failed miserable, who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life.”

Oh, Lord, when will I ever not be in the last category, and be able to say with confidence that I’m part of that first group?? I ask You to please open my eyes. I’m reading Your Word (not as much as I could be, but I am reading it), I’m reading these books by godly people who are expanding on these truths I want to see alive in my life – Surrender, Absolute Surrender, Let God Guide You Daily

– and I am afraid I’m not changing or going to change. I’ve got all this head knowledge I’m gaining, but I want to read for HEART change! My soul screams it! I can’t even write fast enough to tell You how I feel about these frustrations. Jesus, I want to be completely surrendered! I want to stop failing all the time! Oh wretched person I am, who will save me from this body of death!!

Almost comical, I pick up the book to keep reading, I glance at the back cover, and this is what it says:

“Every ardent Christian aspires in his innermost being to enter into a successful, intimate relationship with his Lord. Yet, it seems impossible at times. The surge of emotional fervor that often buoys up a believer as he leaves a Spirit-filled service just as often leaves him frustrated and defeated a few days later.

Well, that can’t get any closer to how I feel.

“I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds partly, I cannot write properly.”

Lord, I want to be Your pen. I don’t want to share the power to command my life. I want You in full control – why don’t I then Let Go??

…..if these words strike a chord in you, reader, then come back next time for the rest of the words I want to share from Andrew Murray’s book, mixed with my own thoughts and prayers. It’s not a light subject: this thing of surrender. But I believe it’s the key, it’s the vital piece so many of us are missing. And if you’ve never considered surrendering to God, I hope it pricks your mind to consider such a bold step.

Surrender

Well, hi! It’s been a while! I’ve been busy with family, travel, and trying to get back into the swing of ‘normal’ life.

So to get back to blogging, I think I’ll start with this, a seemingly random post, but a story I’m walking lately, and have been for a while. Then I’ll bring you all up to speed on my travels and happenings, music news upcoming and what-not, as I get back to writing, with the intermittent good read for reflecting 🙂

41jWZmE8kmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The book I’m reading right now, Surrender by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, says where my thoughts are and where I want to be the best. So the rest of the words of this are hers, not mine:

Continue reading

Necessary Tension

Source: Necessary Tension

Thanks, Kevin, this describes my walk right now, and what I’m striving for. Just had a talk with my daughter about contentment in who God made us and what He gave us, and I personally feel the tension of life: and it’s good, and it keeps me growing. Like you said, we’ll rest in heaven, amen!

Christmas is over. Now what?

I don’t think I read any blogs over the Christmas season. But with good reason. I had my parents here with us for 2 weeks, and we had a wonderful time with them. Lots of laughs, food, fun, Christmas markets, etc. But Christmas is over. I sat for the first time in weeks to read a few blogs. Two of the blogs I follow that I read this morning I think are wonderful for a ‘re-set’ or ‘re-focus’ after the time off for Christmas. So I recommend you check out:

http://devotedlife.net/2015/12/28/trusting-an-engineer-dec-28/ as he reminds us of the place that God should take in our intellect and faith.

and http://gracemusing.com/2015/12/27/17-lessons-i-learned-from-christian-books-in-2015/  to apply what that means to our lives, and practically live more mature, God-led lives.

And from me? I’m just thanking God for His un-ending goodness, as Psalm 143 spoke to me about on December 19th (here’s my thoughts from that day):

Psalm 143: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplication! In Your faithfulness, answer me, And in Your righteousness. Do not enter into judgement with Your servant, For in Your sight, no one living is righteous. For the enemy has persecuted my soul. He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness Like those who have long been dead. Therefore, my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed.”

Lord, before my parents got here, I had been feeling a bit of distress – a bit of darkness. I know You speak to me, but sometimes I feel nothing from You – and I know it’s the enemy blinding me. Please keep me close to You in a way I feel You – so I don’t become overwhelmed, no matter what is going on.

(v5) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the works of Your hands.”

The days of old – I have my notebook here where I’ve been writing my married life story. It has it’s points in it, coming up, and not yet written, that are saddening to think on. But there are so many other moments, days, journal entries, miraculous events, that remind me of how God is in my life: my Lord, Creator, and Savior loves me and cares for me.

Then I look up and out the window at God’s majestic works of His hands. The silhouetted trees with the carefully detailed grey hills behind – as it slowly climbs out of shadow to a purple/grey hue, fog beginning to lift, and the outline of trees layered behind trees beginning to be visible. And as the sun is slowly climbing, the place where the blackened tree line on top of the hill is now accented by the warmest golden lines that blend into an ever-changing band above of pink, beige, faded purple, and then the light cloud-line that leads to a crisp morning blue. Some of the colors I can’t even describe – or they last just a few moments before the Great Painter has set in motion the next part of the scene of a single day’s sunrise. And this is just one minute masterpiece in an abundance of beauty that the Master is orchestrating in a single moment.

Yes, I meditate on all Your works. I muse on the work of Your hands.

I don’t know what kind of year you had. I don’t know what is in your future, or mine. But I know Who holds the future, and I know He wants to be a part of your life. If after reading the blogs I read, and my own thoughts, you feel drawn to know Him, start your new year with new life: talk to Jesus – it’s simple. Ask Him to come and be the Leader of your life and make you new.

 

Mark Chapter 3 Complete!

Wow, it’s taken me quite a bit longer than I thought it would to share my Personal study through Mark. But I have finally worked through chapter 3. So if you didn’t notice at the top of my home page, there is a link: My Personal Study Thru the Book of Mark. If you go to the home page, you can easily see the sub-pages that will take you to Mark 3 (here’s a photo of what you’ll see):

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.40.29 AMThere are six of my personal studies through this chapter. I would love to have your feedback, thoughts, and questions. I hope most of all that this encourages you to study God’s Word for yourself.

Just Right

I know my coffee cup – yes, it’s my one and only pretty much. I’ll drink from a different one, but I tend to have just this cup ready and clean for myself every morning. And I know this cup perfectly well. This is how I tend to make my morning coffee:

DSCN0400I use a filter, some good grade stuff, and hot water – minutes later, awesome cup of joe. I don’t even measure anymore that is how long I’ve been drinking coffee….but:

If I use a different cup, I’m totally lost.

Yes, there have been days that my cup is not there. And I make the mistake of using a different cup, one I don’t know so well. The result is usually coffee all over the counter because I’ve poured in too much water. Then I tell myself, ‘hm. this is not the cup I know.’

God knows each of us better than I know my coffee cup.

He doesn’t just know one ‘cup’ – He knows us all, inside and out, and He knows exactly how much we can handle. He never gives us too much. I was reminded of this as I poured my coffee this morning, and I thought about a verse that kept coming back to me all week:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

2100 Day Shoes

It’s not a brand name. It’s the approximate number of days I wore my favorite pair of shoes from the last 6 years. And now, they are about to retire. Of course, after 6 years of almost daily wear, the time is past due to stop sliding my feet into my favorite sneakers. But this retirement is a lot harder than I thought it would be! One of the reasons it’s been so hard to let go of these shoes is that the company went out of business (I have a theory – they made their shoes too well and so didn’t sell them often enough. And a friend of mine concurs, as she had a pair of Simple shoes too). But the reasons they need to go are not helping me replace my most loved and useful daily footwear.

I’m so glad this wearing out and going away doesn’t apply to people. But wait….

Even though we don’t ‘throw out’ people we love (or we shouldn’t, at least), every person also has an expiration date. Each individual will see their body wear out, and get ready to ‘retire’ – the difference is our sole…I mean, soul, :)… does not. And even though this body design will now be ‘out of business’ the Bible says we have a heavenly body waiting for us, a much better design and make than the one here. It’s designer is not a shoe company, it’s the Creator. 

But there are two choices where you will ‘purchase’ this new fit. If you try to buy it yourself, you won’t end up in a good place. Actually, Jesus says it’s eternal torment. But if you let the Savior buy it for you, then the guarantee is better than lifetime, it’s forever. Not 2100 days. But on and on.

Remembering all this helps me not stress too much about my next pair of shoes. I’ll find another set, and I’ll be okay with the fact they probably won’t last as long. But this ‘shoe’ my soul is walking in currently won’t last forever either. I’ve got a much better deal waiting for me – I just need a temporary fit for now. The best one is coming soon.