Saturday, June 27, 2015

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

It’s hot. Thunderstorms pop up in the late-afternoon heat.

Summer: lazy days.
  • Water trickles down the outside of an ice tea glass.
  • Humidity clings to my skin like a heavy overcoat.

I sit and listen to the rumble of thunder in the distance. I see dark clouds and an occasional flash of lightening. I imagine the rain-cooled breeze tickling my cheek.

I sit—no thoughts race around in my head, no lists of chores undone taunt me.

I just sit; quiet and alone.

Be still.  How often do I still before God, in the same way I rest in the sweetness of the breeze?  When do I clear my mind and allow God to fill me with His peace, in the same way I’m soothed by the sound of thunder? What love He waits to pour out into our minds and hearts—if we’ll just be still. What a joy to be in His presence—if we’ll clear our minds of all the people who demand our attention. 

God wants to share Himself with us!

Know…Know God: who He is, not just what He does.  Yes, I have my “quiet” time in the mornings—a time loud with distractions; loud with the prayer requests that fill my thoughts; loud with the call of busyness waiting for me in the day ahead. My prayers are more important than silence before Him. My eagerness to go about my day is more important than my time with Him. I read my Bible every morning—then I hurry off to do my own thing.
But what does God desire above all else? He doesn’t say “know that I am faithful.” He doesn’t say, “learn of my wisdom.” 

His words are simple: “know that I am God.”

He is God. There is no one besides Him. There’s no one greater than Him. He is God: majestic, glorious, eternal. Perhaps we struggle too much to know what He does and we miss the heart of our faith: He is God. Perhaps we watch too hard to see His hand in our lives that we miss the wonder of seeing His face.

The God of the Universe, the God of Creation, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings—He is our God. He is God of our thoughts, God of our plans, God of each heartbeat.

Bask in the light of His love. Rejoice in His presence. Marvel in the fact that Almighty God is within you, with you, and surrounds you. 

Rest in this simple truth: He is God.

Be still and know that He is God! 

photo credits
ice tea glass:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Deep Roots, Bountiful Harvest

My dearest friend's husband died Saturday night after a long illness. He was a unique, amazing, godly man. It seems trite to say "he will be missed by all who knew him" but you couldn't know Michael without being won over by his wit and slightly warped sense of humor. He planted many seeds and God used him to reaped a bountiful harvest. He's lying his crowns at the feet of Jesus.

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places…when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  Matthew 13:3-9

"The enemy will attempt to uproot, choke, and scorch our budding understanding of our infinite potential in Christ and our inestimable worth in His eyes." Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick

Do you see the correlation between Steven’s words and Jesus’ parable? Steven reminds us that, even as believers, Satan uses the same old tricks to cripple our security, joy, and service.

UPROOT: The birds came and ate it up. Have you ever doubted how much God loves you?
Too often, I listen to Satan’s lies:

  • “Look at you! God can’t love you.” He yanks up my peace.
  • “Are you sure you’re God’s child?” Out goes my confidence.
  • “That’s the last straw! You just sinned once too many!” He tears out my security.

When we run to God’s Word, He strengthens the roots of our faith:

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
“I [Jesus] tell you the truth, whoever hears my work and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24 (Emphasis mine.)

SCORCH: the plants were scorched, and they witheredDo you doubt God’s healing presence?
Why is it so easy to let the enemy singe our joy and thankfulness?
  •  “This sorrow will soak into your bones and never leave.”
  • “Things will never be any better. God doesn’t care.”
Let God’s Word blow cool, fresh truth through your heart and mind:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

CHOKE: thorns…grew up and choked the plants. Fears, worries, confusion – Satan assaults our minds with these to choke our service.

  • “You aren’t good enough – God can’t use you!”
  • “You might as well not even try. You’ll only fail.”

Let God’s truth free you: His grace works within you and He will never fail! You are cleansed and perfected in Jesus.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:15

ABOUNDING HARVEST: Seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop.  Jesus’ words end with such power and strength for us. Satan might throw doubt, fear, and accusation our way but God’s grace will flow through us to produce an amazing harvest. In His love we flourish and bear fruit.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Grow in His Love.
Rejoice in His sweet hope.
Abound in His service.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Shadows of Love

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. Psalm 139:13. 

I came across this wrought-iron patio set in a little nook at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. I’ve gone there every May for ten years and I'd never seen this pretty little cubby hole.

Your eyes might be drawn to the patio set or to the quiet surroundings but my eyes immediately settled on the intricate design of the shadows beneath the chairs.

They reminded me of watching Grandma’s gnarled hands carefully crochet a doily with fine crochet thread. There was tenderness and great care in each stitch. She always had a person in mind to give her doily to and great love went into each creation.

My mind drifted to the tender words in Psalm 139:13

You knit me together in my mother's womb

In your mind’s eye, watch the Creator of the Universe lovingly form each stitch to design the person He desired to know: you

  • The One who spoke the stars into place and named each one.
  • The One who paints sunrises and sunsets.
  • The One who created the earth’s waters and filled them with life.
  • The One who formed giraffes, hippopotamuses, and tiny, perfect hummingbirds.

This One of power, majesty, and glory designed an intricate pattern and tenderly, carefully created you.

Just as Grandma filled each work of her hands with love for the person who would receive it, so God filled each stitch with His great love as He created you, His precious, unique child.

For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD. Psalm 117:2.

Do you realize how precious and treasured you are?
Look at yourself through God's eyes. What about you is lovely to the Lord? 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Outside the Box!


When I went to the Christian Writer’s Conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in May, I was super excited, and a little apprehensive. You see, I took my “baby,” the new Bible study I’m writing, to show to a few agents, editors, and publisher types.

Here’s what they all said: This is amazing, so imaginative and innovative! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s great, BUT

It seems that publishers have a box that defines what a Bible study should be like, and a box that defines fiction, and one that defines nonfiction. My wonderful, imaginative study was outside the boxes.

Bummer! The roller coaster that took me so high at their complimentary words brought me crashing down in the end.

I dragged myself home, with a pouty face, and began to whimper in Daddy God’s lap. Then I heard Him whisper:

“It’s OK, Sherry. I do my best work outside the box.”

As I looked back through Scripture, and my own life, I saw what He meant.

Remember parting the Red Sea? If you were to ask all the wise men and scientists, they would have said that was impossible.

Nature doesn’t work that way. All the laws of science and physics forbid it.

But, God worked outside the box and saved the people of Israel from Pharaoh’s army.

Have you heard of Rahab? You have to go to the book of Joshua, in the Bible, to hear her story. She was a prostitute in the city of Jericho – yes, a prostitute. And yet, because she believed in God, He used her to give His people victory over Jericho and to lead them into the Promised Land.

God used a prostitute –  that’s outside the box!

The examples go on and on:
  • God transformed Paul, a zealous Christian-hater, into a man who told millions about Jesus.
  • God chose Timothy, an inexperienced young man, to lead one of the most important churches in New Testament times.
  • God chose me, an engineer who worked at NASA, to write Bible studies.
  • He chooses you, calls you, and uses you.

But, above all, He chose to send His only Son down from Heaven to walk on the earth and to die for all of us so our sins can be forgiven and we can become His children.

Now, that’s outside the box!

The next time someone says to you, “That will never happen – it’s impossible!”,
Think about the Red Sea. If God wants it done, it will be done.

When your thoughts condemn you and you think God can’t use you because of your past,
Remember Rahab. God can use anyone who believes in Him.

If you’re scared because you think you’re totally unqualified to do what God’s asked you to,
Look at me. A fifty-something engineer can write Bible studies because God enables me to do it.

So, what about my new Bible study? If God wants it published, it will be. If He has another purpose for it, then that will happen. It doesn’t matter what anyone says because…

God does His best work outside the box!

Is there something God calls you to do that seems impossible? Will you trust Him?
When has God worked outside the box in your life?