FULLY ALIVE!

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


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What Not to Wear

Chances are you have seen the American makeover television show, What Not to Wear.  The show featured participants nominated by friends, co-workers, or relatives or sometimes individuals who had nominated themselves.  The nominee was secretly videotaped then brought to New York City for a week of evaluation, shopping and hair and make-up styling AFTER getting a chance to watch their secret footage.  The show always ended showing a party in the participants’ hometown, where she would show off her new look to friends and family who would all, of course, comment on how impressed they were and how happy she looked.  Most importantly, from then on, the participant knew what not to wear!

Well, at least on her outer body.

Let’s face it, sometimes we struggle with getting dressed.  I seriously cannot be the only one who stands before a closet full of clothing (remember, I have a bedroom converted to a closet) and thinks, “I have nothing to wear!”  Nor am I the only one who faces an event (special program at church, class reunion, Thanksgiving dinner with family…) and feels compelled to go shopping for something to wear.  And somebody, other than me, has a couple of tags still hanging on some things that have been in the back of the closet for at least a few weeks, if not months.  Or years!

Yet, we tell ourselves we have nothing to wear.  We are convinced we have nothing to wear.  We honestly believe that we need to go shopping, borrow an outfit or pass on going to the event – because we have NOTHING to wear!  We tell ourselves that lie and swallow it hook, line and sinker even when the truth – that God has provided what we need stares us in the face.  And, in many cases, He has provided a whole lot more!

If we can so easily swallow a sweet little lie about not having anything to wear, even while staring evidence to the contrary in the face, what other lies can we readily accept?

Before we continue, this is a good time to remember that Satan is the Father of Lies (John 8:44).  Well, surely he is too busy to be bothered with something as simple as getting you to believe a lie about what is or is not in your closet?  No, he’s not.  Because it’s not really about your clothes at all.  Satan will do whatever he has to get you to distrust, doubt, shrink away from God and His Word.

Philippians 4:19 (ESV) says that God will supply your every need.  Check the Scriptures before that passage and those that follow and, unlike those little sale circulars that come in the mail, there are no exclusions and no fine print.  You won’t find somewhere else in the Bible that God says something contrary – “I will supply your every need EXCEPT…”  No every need means every need.  Satan does not want you to know that, to understand that, to believe that, to stand on that!  But he is smart; start with the seemingly little, insignificant, unconnected lies.  If he can get you to believe those (I don’t have anything to wear.  Hmm, maybe God didn’t really mean He would supply my every need?), He can get you to believe some even bigger lies.

Don’t believe me?  I won’t take the time here to go into detail, but just look back at Eve’s encounter with Satan in the Garden of Eden.  He was sneaky, crafty, strategic.  He wasn’t blatant, overt and in Eve’s face.  He just cast a stone or two of doubt about who God was, what God said and what God would or wouldn’t do.  You know the rest.

So what not to wear?  Don’t, like Eve, take on the lies of Satan.  He wants you dressed in a coat of defeat with a shawl of weak and flimsy resolve tied about your neck, carrying a backpack or handbag of insecurities, standing in shoes of doubt, pulling on a hat of confusion.

The What Not to Wear participant gets a Visa card and goes shopping.  She buys the foundation of a new wardrobe and is taught how to dress from that point forward – how to build on that foundation for a lifetime of smart and appropriate dressing.  It wouldn’t be enough to simply tell the participant what not to wear and not to teach her what to wear – and how and where to shop for it!

Consider deeply the following Scriptures:

Ezekiel 16:10-13 (ESV):   “ I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk.  And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck.  And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth.

Romans 8:15-17 (ESV):   “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV):  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Do you get the lessons of these Scriptures?  Do you understand what they teach us?  We are children of the one true King.  We are join heirs with Christ.  We are chosen.  We are Holy.  We are His!

No matter what Satan would try to tell us, no matter what he would put in our path to try to make us stumble, no matter what weapon he pulls from his arsenal…it is no match for what the power and authority we have in our Father.  And here’s the clencher, Satan really has only one weapon – lies!  While your Father has equipped you with many weapons and full armor, the key piece that you need to fight Satan is the belt of truth!  Not your truth (which might not be true – remember, you didn’t have anything in your closet to wear), but God’s truth.  This belt accentuates every figure and compliments every outfit; without it, you might as well be naked.  No well-dressed, Christian would be caught without it.  Put it on. And never take it off!

THIS WEEK clean your closet.  On What Not to Wear, the participant must bring her old clothes with her to New York.  They are tried on and sorted.  Occasionally one gets to keep a piece or two found to be acceptable.  Most end up in the trash can.  As Christians we are to test all things and hold only what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  We discard or throw away everything else.  What lies has Satan told you?  Lies about yourself?  Lies about a friend?  Lies about a situation?  Lies about a family member?  Lies about a relationship?  Test them against God’s Holy Word.  Keep that which is good and toss the rest!


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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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Rushing for Lazarus

Have you ever been disappointed?

“Are you kidding” you’re thinking, “Who hasn’t?!”

We’ve all had the experience of thinking that we had found that special one of our dreams to later realize that (s)he was actually the one of our nightmares.  We’ve also experienced our children saying and doing the unthinkable and being nothing like what we thought we had “raised” them to be.  And we have been excited to begin a job and then dread going to the very place that used to bring us such joy.  And, let’s be honest, we have had times that we couldn’t place the blame anywhere else other than at our own feet, and we have been disappointed in ourselves – can’t believe we said that, thought that, acted like that.

Now, let’s be real honest – especially since you have only to tell yourself the truth.  Have you ever been disappointed in God?

Yikes!  Surely that must be blasphemous!

Sheila Walsh says, “God is big enough, and His love is fierce enough to deal with anything we feel or must face.”  In other words, He can take it.  In better words, He can help you through it.

Look at John 11:1-3 (ESV).

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.'”

Hmm. Mary had anointed the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair. It was her brother that was ill. Surely Jesus is going to drop everything and make a beeline to their home. And if that wasn’t enough, verse 3 emphasizes that Jesus loved Lazarus, too. That’s like the cherry on top; He is coming now for certain. If we look ahead, even verse 5 of this text says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

Can’t you picture Mary and Martha – and even Lazarus? They’re not sad. They’re not worried. “Jesus loves us, and He is coming!” I picture them sitting around reminiscing about the miracles they’d seen Jesus perform. THIS will be NOTHING for Him.

But He didn’t come.  At least not right away.  And Lazarus died.  Then Jesus came.

Let’s skip way ahead in this text to verse 20. “So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.”   This being a Christian blog, let’s just suffice it to say Mary was probably a bit disappointed. Her hopes and expectations were dashed on several rocks – first Jesus not coming when they had sent for Him even AFTER she had wiped His feet with her hair AND Lazarus has now died!!!!! Then Jesus just strolls in rather nonchalantly. Are you serious?

Yes.

Jesus had intentionally delayed. Look back at verse 6 which reads, “So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was.”

Jesus was not running late. He wasn’t caught up or caught off guard. He hadn’t bitten off more than He could chew. He heard about Lazarus, and He intentionally stayed two days longer in the place where He was.

And Mary was disappointed. In verse 32b she says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

You know how women say one thing and mean something else? (I can write that since I am a woman.) I read that Mary said, “If you’d been here, Lazarus would still be alive.” I imagine that Mary meant, “Where were you? Why didn’t you come? Don’t you care? Didn’t you know? How could you not have come? I thought you loved us! Is this how you show love?”

It didn’t help either that there were a bunch of naysayers hanging around in verse 37 – “But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

There are SO many lessons in this text.

But let’s go back to Mary’s disappointment. Did you notice that it didn’t faze the Lord? He heard her – her spoken words and the words of her heart. He loved her no less. He let her pour out her heart, and then He did what He came to do. In verse 40 He reminded them, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” And the glory of God is what He showed them as He called Lazarus from the grave. Wow! Healing the sick is one thing. Raising the dead, that’s another!

God loved Mary. He loved Martha. He loved Lazarus. But He didn’t rush to their aid.

He loves you. He may not rush to your aid.

He will, as the old Negro spiritual says, “come right on time.”

You may be disappointed, and you can tell Him, but never doubt Him. Keep believing, and He will show you the glory of God!

Read Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) each day this week then reflect on the given questions.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Monday Questions for Reflection: What are the disappointments of your life? List them (preferably in a journal). At the top and bottom of the page write, “Hope does not disappoint.” Revisit your journal periodically and the list of disappointments. Make note of how God reveals Himself and His glory in relation to each one.

Tuesday Questions for Reflection: Could it be that God delays to build endurance in us? How do you think Mary, Martha and even Lazarus changed after Lazarus was raised from the dead? When was a time that God’s delay brought you a greater blessing?

Wednesday Questions for Reflection: Identify a current disappointment in God. Can you choose to worship Him through it? How does that make you feel?

Thursday Questions for Reflection: Look at those who have surrounded you. Are they feeding and encouraging your disappointment (like the Jews who asked “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”) or are they encouraging your hope in the Lord? Might you need to separate yourself from someone – at least for a season?

Friday Questions for Reflection: Examine your own actions. Are you feeding someone else’s disappointment or are you encouraging their hope in the Lord? What do you need to start doing, stop doing or do more of?