Lessons from an Eight Year Old

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John1:4).

 A few days ago our eight-year-old grandson, with wonder and excitement, relayed this story to us on the phone. He and his dad and little brother were mountain biking through some wooded trails. He was in the front, got far ahead of the other two and took a few wrong turns. He found himself lost and alone.

He told us that he immediately prayed…twice! This story has more than a happy ending. The next day, as they were reading a daily children’s devotional, the topic was… you guessed it—Fear Not! It described different fears such as being alone, rejection, and failure. And it talked of the assurance of God’s promise—“I will never leave you.”

We always have someone who loves us, accepts us, and helps us. God wants to be part of our here and now.

He was so excited about the timeliness of this lesson that he read the whole devotion to us with the excitement and passion that we have when we realize that a special passage from God’s word was written just for me, at the exact time I needed to hear it.

Don’t you love how God works!?

It warms my heart to know that this little guy knows that he can face his fears with God “who will never leave him.” And here is the verse from his devotional that we can all claim, which was written just for us, for the exact time we need it:

 I asked the Lord for help and He answered me. He saved me from all that I feared (Ps 34:4).

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Be Courageous

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deut 31:8).

 The above verse was Moses’s charge to Joshua as he entered the Promised Land. Many of the Israelites were heading into an unknown territory; and for some who had spied there, it was a land of giants who weren’t going to give up their land without a fight.

God often sends believers into unknown or unfamiliar territory. It may not be to face a physical fight, but rather to talk to someone, do something, or take a step of faith outside of our comfort zone.

But if we are following God’s will—His urging—we will experience His faithfulness time, and time again.

Not only will He be with us, but He will have gone before us clearing the path, softening hearts, doing whatever needs to be done so that our His mission will be successful.

Why should we be afraid or discouraged? What we consider set-backs or obstacles may just be there to keep us within the borders of His perfect timing. Through it all, we can be assured that He will never, ever abandon us.

 

Implementing God’s Word

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

 I am presently working with a group of students who are frustrated with the standards (guidelines) with which they must comply. Often times it isn’t the guideline itself, but the way that it is implemented. Don’t we sometimes do the same things as believers? We take a verse, principle or even a commandment and interpret it to our liking. This is nothing new. Paul addressed the Colossians about this a few centuries ago.

Take the verse “Husbands love your wives” as an example—part B of a very volatile principle in today’s world. Love is defined in Corinthians, and we hear it at 99% of the weddings we attend. But to put it in 21st century terms: Love is patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, or selfish, or demanding its own way, not easily angered, doesn’t keep score (I like that one), always protects, never gives up, is always hopeful and is trusting. God’s definition is sooo much better than Hollywood’s version.

Time to look at part A of this verse, “Wives submit to your husbands.” I addressed this before so I’ll just make a few comments that go along with this title. Like my education example, through the years and across many cultures and religions, this has been interpreted in ways that are in opposition to the intent. This verse does not suggest spiritual inferiority; in fact, the one submitting is actually in control of choosing the course of action. Valuing others above ourselves requires confidence in order to willingly yield to another, in order to lift that person up, with only one motive—love.

As the above verse states, scripture did not come from man, but it is the inspired word from the Holy Spirit. Although the most trusted theologians can give us insight, they are still men. God speaks directly to all believers, not just teaching by human wisdom, but teaching by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Just As I Am

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8)

A character in a movie that I was watching made the statement, “The trouble I have with religion is the people.” I agree. Religion was invented by imperfect, and sometimes corrupt, people. I cringe whenever I am referred to as being religious. I would so much more love being identified as a woman of faith—faith in a loving God whose motive is a loving relationship with me.

Religion can be both rigid and fickle with dos and don’ts that change whenever a more palatable idea comes along. God’s character doesn’t change, but He’s far from rigid. He deals with each of us as individuals—where we are, where we need to grow in order to become the improved model, not of someone else, but of who we are—our own 2.0 version, moving closer to the image of His Son.

Even if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is (2 Tim 2:13).

Certainly we can, and are encouraged, to gather together as believers to support each other, learn, and especially to worship the One who accepts us right where we are –Just as I am, You will receive; Will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

 I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me (John 6:37).

He Wants to be Found

He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Over the years I have visited a number of churches either through moves, visits, or while on vacation. I have found that whether I listen to a poorly delivered message or an eloquent one; one with sound teaching or one with questionable content, God still speaks to me. In fact, I often learn more from the poor ones because they send me to my bible to find out why they didn’t “sit right.”

At times though, when something seems disagreeable, it’s because God is convicting me of an area of my life that needs to change.

And then there are the times when I sit through three-fourths of a message thinking, “Whatshername should hear this one,” when BOOM, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that I am Whatshername.

We all know that we don’t have to be sitting in a church pew to hear God speak. He meets us at the beach, on the radio, in the car (some of our best two-ways are here), in the shower, and of course, through His word.

I think the key is expectation—the expectation of our faith. Look for Him. Anticipate His response. His word promises over and over again—

And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him (Deut 4:29).

 If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me (Jeremiah 29:13).

 And my favorite brings associations of a loving parent– If you seek Him, He will let you find Him (1 Chronicles 28:9 NAS).

God is Good

You are good, and what You do is good (Ps 119:68a).

There are quite a few verses throughout scripture that woven together, describe God’s goodness and what our response to His goodness should be. In Romans we are taught that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose. We sometimes experience a disconnect when we think, in our eyes, ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here)            can’t possibly result in anything good.

A buzz phrase today is “to be intentional” and that is a fitting way to define God’s goodness. It is purposeful, never meaningless nor random. God’s purpose, to conform us to the likeness of His Son, is a much greater good than our comfort at the moment. Our definition of good is both temporal and temporary rather than spiritual and eternal.

This brings us to another challenging verse about God’s goodness, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here too)     .  This verse certainly requires some prayer and study. But we can know–we can be absolutely sure–that God’s actions are motivated by love, and that the end result will be worth it, and good.

Going through tough times is tough. But God’s word gives us promise after promise of His faithfulness in walking us through trials, in giving us strength, in giving us endurance, in supplying everything we need.

His grace is more than enough.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow (pursue) me all the days of my life.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23).

Once we make the decision to follow Jesus, every part of our life is affected. Oswald Chambers states, “The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house—He invades all of it.”

This is good news! Even if we spend three hours a day on our knees or reading scripture (I’d like to say that this is me, but I’m nowhere close), even if we did, that would only be a very small percent of the day. So many, many other things are happening. But if the Holy Spirit is present like He says He is, they are all “Spirit-ual” activities.

The challenge for me is to let Him lead…then for me to follow. And it does require time for prayer and scripture reading to hear His voice. If there is a dry spell where we are not given explicit direction, we can still chose to live righteously in our typical daily routine because He’s in that room, too.

If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is (2 Tim 2: 13).

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corin 1:9). 

Thank you, Lord, for Your ever-presence. You’re here at times when I beg for direction and intervention; and You’re here when I arrogantly think that I can handle things. I am grateful for Your faithfulness especially during those times when I’m not.