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Worship Like Abram

As my siblings and I grew into teenagers and young adults, my mom and dad had to change their parenting tactics.   To keep us on track and doing the things they felt we should do, they promised us certain things.  For instance, if we remained in college, they would pay for a car insurance and car.  Also, if we got straight A’s all year long, they would pay us $50.00 (which was a lot of money back then). My parents honored all their promises to us.  We learned that we could count on their word and had complete trust and faith in them.

It’s so easy to put trust and faith in someone when there is tangible proof that what a person says they do.  It’s quite another thing to trust when there is not always tangible proof, and when it takes a big leap of faith to trust and believe.

Abram was seventy-five years old, childless, and prosperous in his homeland.  One day God told Abram to leave his native land and go to a land where God would lead him.  God promised several things if Abram would do this. First, God promised to bless him and make him a great nation which meant give him many offspring.  He also promised Abram fame and all the world’s families would be blessed through him.  God added that He would bless those who blessed Abram and curse those who cursed Him which meant Abram had God’s protection no matter where he went.

I’m always amazed that Abram obeyed the voice of God and didn’t question him.  How many seventy-five-year-olds would pack up and make a long journey away from the familiar?  Yet, Abram packed up his wife and servants and all his possessions along with his nephew Lot and headed to where God told him to go which was the land of Canaan.  This land was already inhabited by a foreign culture.  However, that did not deter Abram.  He went ahead and made himself at home.

The Lord showed Himself to Abram and promised Canaan to Abram’s descendants.  Then Abram worshiped the Lord by building an alter there.  Abram traveled throughout that promised land.  In all Abram’s stops and starts on his journey, he built alters to honor God which showed his faith.  God had yet to come through on all his promises, but Abram had believed that God would.  How awesome Abram’s worshipful attitude was!

Can I say the same for myself?  Do I have enough faith to worship the Lord in all the stops and starts in my own life?  Can I believe in His promises when there is no tangible proof?  It’s hard to worship when things aren’t going well, or I forget to worship when things are great.  A worshipful attitude toward God opens our hearts so we can feel His presence and hear His voice.  It is a way to keep our faith strong and our souls tuned in to the Lord and His plans and promises for us.  When we do this in faith and not by what we can see and feel, it pleases the Lord.  He wants us to trust Him and love Him with our whole being.

 

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.  Psalms 145:13

God Our Father

I regretfully admit that I did not always obey my mother.  For instance, if she asked me a question or to do something, I would either ignore her or just tune her out.  Many times, she had to repeat herself.  Sometimes if I did not respond, there would be consequences, but often she would just get mad.  I clearly remember her frustration.  She would turn red in the face and say in exasperation, “Talking to you is like talking to myself!”

When I became a parent, the pattern repeated itself.  My children ignored me or tuned me out, just like I did my mother.  When the anger would rise in me, I heard my mother’s words come right out of my own mouth.  I admit I was not always consistent in metering out punishment either.

What about God?  I wonder if He ever feels that way about us Christians?  I’m sure He must.  After all, He is our Father, and we are His willful imperfect children.  The only difference between a human parent and God is that He may feel like He’s talking to Himself, but He will ALWAYS have consequences for those who chose to ignore Him.   He doesn’t let anyone slide by.

The Lord lets us know in many ways what He wants us to do.  It could be our conscience whispering through the corridors of our mind or a fellow Christian.  He has also provided the Bible as a guide for us to live by and from which to learn valuable lessons.  His guidelines are for our own good and will allow us for the most part to lead less stressful and more joyful lives.  If we choose to ignore His guidelines, then there are always consequences.

Every time we ignore what the Lord wants us to do, we are being disrespectful and disobedient – just like I was with my mother.  As a parent, I expected my children to obey, so why would I think God would not expect the same from me?   I confess that sometimes I hear His voice but choose to ignore it.  But the Lord loves me because I am His child and though He punishes me, it is for my own good.  He doesn’t want me to repeat the same mistake.  Sometimes as a warning, He’ll rap my knuckles hard enough to get my attention.  But if I persist in my disobedience, I will pay a higher price.

Throughout the Bible there are examples of disobedience and its consequences.  Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Great Flood, and the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years until the disbelieving and disobedient died off to name a few examples.  From these accounts in the Bible, it’s obvious that obedience is important to God.

While God hates disobedience, He does love His children and offers forgiveness.  The only thing we have to do is recognize that we have been disobedient and confess it before the Lord with the intention that we will not repeat our mistake.  He will forgive us and keep us from falling back into that pattern.  This season of Lent is a good time to look at your life and see where you are being disobedient and ask the Lord for forgiveness and get back on the right path.

 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

What We Choose

When I was sixteen, I got my driver’s license.  In our family, once you turned sixteen, you were required to get a job and our parents provided each of us with a car.  You were responsible for your clothing, gasoline, fun and ‘wants’ from that day forward.  That isn’t to say my parents quit providing for us.  They took care of our needs and wanted us to take responsibility for everything else.  They also set forth rules and a curfew that we had to follow to maintain our driving privileges. We were also required to check our oil, radiator, tire pressure and other fluids.  My dad wanted no excuses for any car trouble that could be avoided.   So, we had a choice of freedom to go where we chose or boredom being trapped at home.  No pressure was exerted.  The consequences were based on our choices.

Our lives are full of choices that have consequences both good and bad depending on the choice we make.  This has been true since the Garden of Eden.  After God created man, He created the Garden of Eden and placed man in there to care for it.  Genesis 2:8-9 in The Message version of the Bible puts it beautifully; Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. He put the Man he had just made in it. God made all kinds of trees grow from the ground, trees beautiful to look at and good to eat. The Tree-of-Life was in the middle of the garden, also the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.  God created two special trees.  The ONLY tree God told Adam not to eat from was the Tree-of-the-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.  The result of eating from that tree was death.  However, he could partake of the fruit from the Tree – of – Life or any other tree in the garden.  How awesome is that?  Enjoy fruit from the Tree – of – Life or any other tree in the garden except for the one and live OR eat from that one and only Tree- of- the -Knowledge – of – Good – and – Evil and die.  Seems like a “no-brainer” choice, doesn’t it?  Sadly, Adam made the wrong choice, even though he knew the consequences.

God loved man so much that He created a special place for him to live and commune with Him. He didn’t force man to live there, and he didn’t have a lot of rules that man had to follow or remember.  There was only one choice to make – not to eat the forbidden fruit.  God gave Adam many choices of things to eat not just the fruit from the tree of life.  In doing that, GOD gave Adam every opportunity He could to NOT make the wrong decision.  God wanted Adam to choose Him willingly.

Even today God gives us the choice between life (communing with Him in a special place) and death (separation from God forever).  We can either have faith in God the Father and believe in Jesus Christ His Son and be filled with His Holy Spirit or we can go our own way and do what we want and worship who/what we please and choose death.  He does not impose His will on us or make us jump through hoops.  It’s all about faith.  For those who seek Him, He gives every opportunity to find Him, just as He gave Adam every opportunity not to eat from that forbidden tree.

God has laid out His simple rules for the road and given us the keys to the car of life so we can drive it on our own terms.  God will give us every opportunity to choose to do the right things and make that life or death decision.  When we are finished driving that car and turn in the keys, we have either followed His rules or not.  That choice has consequences that we will face.  What choice will you make?  Will you choose life or death?

     For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 NIV

THe Unseen

When I was about five years old, I contracted scarlet fever.  I remember being delirious and feeling horrible.  My mother told me I was one very sick little girl and there was not much she could do for me but keep me isolated from the rest of the family, give me penicillin, and allow it to run its course.  Scarlet fever was considered extremely dangerous and was known to leave people with heart trouble.  In fact, I have a minor heart murmur, a permanent reminder of that illness.

Back then, if someone had scarlet fever, the household was quarantined and the family had to take penicillin to keep from getting it. Penicillin was new at the time.  While it helped to make me better, unbeknownst to us, my father was allergic to it and broke out in hives and got very ill.  I am told he could have died.  I remember it being a scary time in our household.

Scarlet fever is a form of strep.  An untreated person is contagious for several weeks after contracting it.  It is transmitted via body fluids.  Glasses, doorknobs, towels and just any place where fluids are left turn into an incubator for the contaminates.

Just like the scarlet fever bacteria, our thoughts are small unseen things that can cause havoc in our lives.  Nobody can see or hear them, but they grow and thrive inside us and are a barometer for our soul.  Once our thoughts have firmly established themselves, they begin to show symptoms in the way we act, the things we do or the words we say.  These actions can be contagious and can be easily transmitted to others who can also become infected with those same thoughts and perhaps pass it on to others.  Sometimes we can be left with scars – permanent reminders of our sins and immoral thoughts.

Because negative or immoral thoughts can produce sin and harmful behaviors in our physical bodies, and can impact others who may be tainted or hurt by our actions and possibly encourage them to reproduce the same sin or behavior, it is important to protect our minds from those things than can corrupt us.  We can do this by rejecting negative or sinful thoughts and replace them with good, pure and moral ones.  To do this, we must make sure to be careful what goes into our minds from what we listen to, watch and read.  We also need to choose where we go and with whom we spend time carefully so that we can avoid slipping into a harmful relationship or risky behavior.

The Book of Proverbs 23:7 warn us that for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.  Ralph Waldo Emerson also said,” a man is what he thinks about all day long”.  It is incredible that something we cannot see can influence us so greatly.  Yet, the LORD looks at our thoughts and our minds.  It is where we exhibit our true self.  We may be able to hide it from others, but not from Him.   Our faith and reliance on the LORD is the antibiotic that can restore our soul.

 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

Who Is God?

How would you describe yourself in only two words? Because you are a complicated and a multifaceted person, two words might be considered a partial description.  There is not a more complicated and more multifaceted being than God. Yet He describes Himself in one word. The Hebrew word “Yahweh” means “I AM.”

God wanted Moses to deliver His people from Pharaoh. Even though he was a Hebrew, Moses had not been around God’s people for many years. He was not sure that they would believe that their God had sent him. Moses asked God what he was supposed to tell the Israelite nation if they asked what God’s name was. God replied, “I AM has sent you.”

Why would God use those two words to describe Himself? The two words, I AM, encompasses all three of God’s attributes. Those words all begin with “O” – omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience. Each one of those words can only be applied to God – nobody else has these traits.

“Am” is the first person, present tense of the verb to be. God was always there in the past with no beginning. He is present with us now, and He will continue to be here in the future; He has no end. The verb AM also means to transpire, happen or come to pass. God causes and can cause anything to happen because He is omnipotent, all powerful. He spoke the world into existence. I AM resonates His power. The last of God’s attributes is omniscience. God knows everything. He does not forget anything and knows all there is to know.

This same I AM loves you and longs for a relationship with you. He wants to help you navigate through life’s trials and joys. But He allows you to be in charge of the times you meet, and if you want Him to walk with you through life. I AM is waiting for you.
  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:18-19