FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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You are HERE

How did we survive before GPS?  I mean really!

When I learned to drive, road maps were all the rage.  I have very vivid images of my dad sitting at the kitchen table with his maps spread out and a World Atlas at his fingertips.  He would sit there for hours planning our family vacations, mapping the routes, making note of the connections, turns and exits.  I thought he and my sister were amazing the way they could recall and discuss highway numbers… “Turn right onto 42 and go about 37 miles then take NC 97 North to 301.  You’ll go about 12 miles then merge onto Interstate 95 North.”

I well remember my first solo trip with a road map.  Like Daddy, I sat at the kitchen table, spread the map, made my markings and jotted notes.  I was going on a job interview and, worried enough about that, I wanted the travel to be uneventful.  I even used the little scale in the bottom corner of the map to calculate mileage and approximate time.  All along the way, though, I had to keep stopping on the side of the road to consult my trusty road map.

Three things are important when planning a trip using a map – knowing where you are, where you need to end and which direction you need to travel to get there!  And therein lies the beauty of GPS.  The screen shot always includes a big arrow indicating YOU ARE HERE.  That’s good news to any driver!

Want some even better news?  Not only are you “HERE,” so is God!  He is everywhere!  He is with you!

Joshua 1:9 (ESV) reminds us to be strong, courageous and without fear or dismay because the Lord, our God, is with us wherever we go. Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV) echoes the same encouragement adding a reminder that He will never leave nor forsake us. David asked, “Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7-10, ESV) In the heavens, in Sheol, in the uttermost part of the sea – even there David said we find God’s hand which shall lead us and hold us!

I find that latter thought to be particularly encouraging because I live in the boondocks, and I frequently drive rural highways.  This means I regularly lose signals for my telephone and GPS.  The “GPS Lady” often tells me she is rerouting.  I suppose rerouting sounds better than “I don’t have a clue where you are.”  When the GPS loses its signal, I am left to go it alone trying to read road signs while I drive.  That is not only frustrating, it is unnerving, especially if I am traveling an unfamiliar and not well-marked route.  Whenever the signal reconnects, the GPS offers instructions to correct whatever mis-turns I may have taken and tries to get me back on track.  It’s rare, but sometimes GPS cannot get it right and I have to rely on other sources like stopping strangers to ask for instructions or accessing Google Maps on my cell phone.

Our God never loses connection with us though we sometimes choose to ignore the promptings of His Holy Spirit.  Now there are times when I know better than the “GPS Lady.”  She tells me to turn left and I am looking at a ONE WAY sign or a ROAD CLOSED sign, so I know not to follow her directions. But our God gets it right 100% of the time! Isaiah 40:13-14 asks, “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding?” The answer is NO ONE! He is omniscient and omnipresent, so He knows and He is with us. He is also faithful, so we can trust that He is with us, just as He promised, wherever we are.

There are times when we ignore God’s directions or believe that we know better.  Surely when God has us on a route that is bumpy or one that is twisted or winding or scary or lonesome or dark even, He has made a mistake, somehow gotten it wrong.  No, it is not God that has gotten it wrong, it is our perspective that is limited while God is finite.

Question God?  Be puzzled by His directions?  Surely, but never doubt.  Even Abraham had questions about God’s directions and decisions (e.g. the destruction of Sodom), but Abraham obeyed in faith.  He never mocked, rebelled or cursed God.  Abraham knew what we can know as children of God and that is that God is Here, right here with you!

THIS WEEK earnestly seek God’s direction for your life.  Charles Stanley offers seven words that will help us in seeking His direction. Study, meditate and pray on one word each day this week. (Cleansing, Surrendering, Asking, Meditating, Believing, Waiting, Receiving). Find more at:  http://www.intouch.org/you/article-archive/content?topic=seeking_god_s_guidance_article#.VMV5UrAo7IU

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Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

This weekend we celebrated – my Sweetie’s birthday and our anniversary!  Both events occur on the same day because our first date was many years ago on his birthday.  Being well past needing or even wanting more stuff, we endeavor to create and share experiences as our gifts to each other.  One of my gifts to him was a visit to the symphony.

Our state Symphony was paying a tribute to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, so the evening promised to be one filled with good music.  It did not disappoint.  Byron Stripling, trumpet virtuoso, is known as an extroverted performer who brings the audience into his music exuding happiness through his trumpet and his vocals which are quite reminiscent of Louis Armstrong yet also his own.  Stripling filled the gaps between sets with funny stories, clean jokes and a poem that spoke to my heart.  He called it Wishes, and it went something like this:

“I wish I had a telescope to scan the starry skies, but since I have no telescope, I’m glad I have two eyes.  I wish I had a kitchen all run by push-button commands, but while that kitchen’s still a dream, I’m glad I have two hands.  I wish I had a new Rolls Royce – to my friends that’d be a treat, but until that new car comes along, I’m glad I have two feet.  Two eyes to look to God above…two hands to clasp in prayer…two feet to carry me to church…wow, I’m a millionaire!”

THIS WEEK ponder this quote from Charles Stanley then take inventory of all the ways you are a millionaire: “When we limit ourselves to human ability and resources, we will find that both run out very quickly. When we instead trust in the Lord’s ability to work on our behalf, we tap into an infinite supply that cannot be measured or depleted. God’s resources are 100 percent recession-proof.” He has promised to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).


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Big Hairy Audacious Prayers

Exodus 14:21-22 (NKJV)

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”

Joshua 10:12-14 (ESV)

“At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,  “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.”

2 Kings 6:1-7

“The disciples of the prophets said to Elisha, “The place where we’re staying is too small for us. Let’s go to the Jordan River. Each of us can get some logs and make a place for us to live there.”

Elisha said, “Go ahead.”

Then one of the disciples asked, “Won’t you please come with us?”

Elisha answered, “I’ll go.”

So he went with them. They came to the Jordan River and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the ax head fell into the water. He cried out, “Oh no, master! It was borrowed!”

The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed Elisha the place, Elisha cut off a piece of wood. He threw it into the water at that place and made the ax head float. Elisha said, “Pick it up.” The disciple reached for it and picked it up.”

Parting seas, suns that stand still, ax heads that float? Yes…because they dared ask; they dared believe.

Mark Batterson says, “If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention.”

Business leaders, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, said successful organizations set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They called them BHAGs. They were designed to focus an organization on a single goal – one which outsiders would think impossible but would stir within those in the organization belief and momentum

Our God is the God of big, hairy, audacious prayers – BHAPs. Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV) tells us to call to Him, and He will answer. Pastor Ray Stedman says, God is “absolutely available, absolutely approachable, gracious, merciful, compassionate, kind, and you can go into His presence boldly and ask for whatever you want.  You can go into His presence any time and not interrupt Him.”  Genie in a bottle?  No, but a compassionate Father who loves His children, a powerful King who is merciful and gracious  and a faithful God who answers prayers.

What is your Big Hairy Audacious Prayer?

THIS WEEK:  Search the Scriptures for other examples of bold prayers and God’s response to them. Some examples might include the prayers of Hannah, Jehoshaphat and Daniel. Pray to know God’s will and that His will is your sanctified wish, then pray your biggest, hairiest, most audacious prayer!


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Leave the Light On

Motel 6 is a motel franchise with over a thousand locations that was started in 1962 in Santa Barbara, California as a lower-cost alternative. Aside from its low prices, Motel 6 may be best known for its series of commercials with National Public Radio personality, Tom Bodett, who closed every ad with the line “We’ll Leave the Light On For You.” The slogan was both an instant and lasting success, staying with the chain for over 25 years and counting. Why? The slogan kindled warm feelings of home. The idea of light also welcomed weary travelers, shining like a beacon in the night showing them the way to rest, comfort, shelter and safety.

In Philippians 2:15 Paul says, “Believers, you are to shine as light in the world.” Paul uses the Greek word that means a beacon – much like a lighthouse. One might say then, that we are called to be lighthouses – to warn, to show the way, to direct to safe harbor. Michael Youssef says, “Everyday we are surrounded by people groping around in the darkness, separated from the God who loves them. God uses His people, His children, like beacons from a lighthouse to show the way to Him.”  The German atheist philosopher Nietzsche once said that if he saw more redeemed people he might be more inclined to believe in their Redeemer.

Is your light on?

Notice that Motel 6 says, “We’ll leave the light on for you” not “We’ll turn the light on for you.” The light is ALWAYS on.

Do you turn your light on on Sunday mornings…and turn it off Sunday afternoon?

Do you turn your light on for conversations with the pastor…and turn it off when you talk to your husband or wife? How about your children? Your mother-in-law?  Behind your boss’s back?  In the teachers’ lounge?  At a ball game?

Do you turn your light on at church and turn it off in the workplace?

Do you turn your light on during Bible Study…and turn it off when “hanging” with your buddies?

Notice, too, that Motel 6 just lets the light shine.

Two points in the form of questions:

  1. What happens to those lost souls that are groping in the darkness, separated from our God who loves them when your light is turned off? (Hmm? I’m thinking something like a shipwreck.)
  2. Is it YOUR decision whether to be light or not?

Youssef says, “Either we are “light” by the grace of God, or we are willfully disobeying the One who saves us for such a s time as this.” Yikes! The option is not ours. We are called to be light in this dark world – all the time, everywhere. To fail to do so is to disobey God.  It’s that simple. Leave your light on!

THIS WEEK: Read Matthew 5:16. Monitor your “light.” Is it on? Is it burning brightly? Are you letting it shine or trying to force it to shine?