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Archive for July, 2014

I’ve written before of the verse God gave to me the day before my dad died, and how close it has been to my heart ever since, even becoming my “life verse:”

16 Rejoice always.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5)

I’ve had many opportunities to share it with others undergoing trials and it does seem to be popping up more often lately as people face great struggles in their own lives.

This morning I read a passage that dovetailed beautifully with it; something more for me to ponder in harmony with that passage:

7 Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.
9 Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not [then] submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live?
10 They disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but he does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness.
11 At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.
12 So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
13 Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. (Hebrews 12)

I like how this tells me to view my trials not as punishment, but as discipline. Though painful, if I look at discipline as a sort of training for my own benefit, it helps me to endure it a little easier and to look for both the blessings and for the lessons I may glean while I am in the midst of trials.

This is important to me because as I reflect back in my life I see how I used to avoid trials as much as possible – lamenting when they came upon me and struggling against them – instead of looking to God within them. I can see how giving me the verse from Thessalonians on the eve of my father’s death, God has given me an attitude adjustment, and how He has given me a new way to look at what I am experiencing.

My God knows me so intimately; He knows this is effective with me. It may not be the most effective with others and I believe and trust that He is also drawing and teaching my loved ones in ways that they best hear and respond to our Shepherd’s voice.

I am so grateful for my attitude adjustment, and knowing that it is meant to help me someday share in His holiness. Wow!!!

 

 

 

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Reading Daniel chapter 6, Daniel had risen to a place of power under the king. Verses 4-6 reveal:

“Daniel outshone all the ministers and satraps because an extraordinary spirit was in him, and the king considered setting him over the entire kingdom. Then the ministers and satraps tried to find grounds for accusation against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could not accuse him of any corruption. Because he was trustworthy, no fault or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said to themselves, ‘We shall find no grounds for accusation against this Daniel except in connection with the law of his God.’”

They proceeded to concoct a way to entrap Daniel and this led to the well-known story of Daniel in the lion’s den.

But I am fascinated by the three verses I just quoted.

An “extraordinary spirit” was in Daniel. Jesus sent to us the Paraclete – the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Isn’t there an extraordinary Spirit within me, guiding and granting Wisdom just as it did for Daniel?

Can you imagine how cool it would be if we were found so trustworthy, with no fault or corruption to be found in us, that the world had to concoct a way to entrap us? What if the only to accuse us, would be in connection with the law of our Father?

Jesus told us the world would hate us. I pray that if it will hate me, it is in connection with the law of my God. That if it will hate me and concoct a way to accuse me, I not be afraid and follow the world but rather am brave enough to go against the world, worship my God even if I were to be thrown to lions.

Please, O LORD, grant me the Wisdom and the courage and an Extraordinary Spirit to follow you always.

 

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Sometimes in nature and in scripture I notice the extravagance of God.

Some commentaries point out that in the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-8), we see a certain extravagance of God. He isn’t cautious nor sparing about sowing the seed, nor does He save it for only the most choice locations. He scatters it generously, giving every opportunity for it to take root and grow.

Today I was reading Daniel and saw extravagance again. Here Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were to be thrown into a fiery furnace stoked to be “seven times hotter” than normal. It was so hot that Daniel 3:22 says, “So huge a fire was kindled in the furnace that the flames devoured the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into it.”

That’s hot!

If you aren’t familiar with the story you might well guess that the three are not burned up in the fire. But not only are their lives spared by the protection of God, they enjoy a certain extravagance in their rescue.

Daniel 3:49-50: “But the angel of the Lord went down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, drove the fiery flames out of the furnace, and made the inside of the furnace as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it. The fire in no way touched them or caused them pain or harm.”

No discomfort whatsoever. Rather, it was like a “dew-laden breeze.” I imagine that to desert-dwellers, a dew-laden breeze would always feel extravagant, a heavenly treat. And here the three enjoyed it under impossible circumstances, accompanied by the angel of the Lord.

I found that especially beautiful this morning.

 

 

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