The path belongs to Him

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day. (Psalm 25.4-5)

It was my first camel ride. Sitting high atop this ship of the desert, in the pitch-black darkness, I bounced my way up the side of Mt. Sinai in Egypt. The only sounds were the grunts of the camel and the sixteen-year-old bedouin boy shouting at the camel to “go” in Arabic. (…at least, I think it was “go” … and surely he was shouting at the camel and not me.) On occasion, I would catch a glimpse of the steep cliff on the side of the dirt trail, but the camel never slipped, never faltered, and its step was ever sure. It had traveled this trail many, many times before. And my young guide knew the way very well. He lived in this area. I was in the best of hands. Eventually, I relaxed, looked in awe at the brightness of the star-filled sky and anticipated standing at the top of God’s mountain to watch the sun rise.

Maybe you are anxious about the direction your life is taking or you are experiencing suffering along the way. Maybe you have far more questions than answers. It’s not so important how dark your trail has become. It’s not even important if you can see the next step you are to take. Just realize you are not your own (1 Corinthians 6.19). If you have given your heart to Jesus Christ, you belong to Him.

He knows all the trails and trials of life. He wants to be your guide and your goal. He wants to be your God. Let Him.

One day, Jesus said to His disciples that He was going to leave and prepare a place for them “‘that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” (John 14.3-6)

In this life, Jesus is both the destination and the only way to get there. The ride will often be bouncy and sometimes painful, but His love for you is beyond doubt, His knowledge of your life is complete and His plan for you is perfect. Keep your eyes on Him as He guides you along a path that belongs to Him.

At least, speak up for the unborn

For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well. My frame wasn’t hidden from you, when I was made in secret, woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my body. In your book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139.13-17 WEB)

In 1934, a young German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, faced the incredible challenges of living as a dedicated Christian in his world. The German government at that time was in the evil hands of Hitler and his Nazis; the leadership of the German Church had been infiltrated by leaders complicit with the government; and many evangelical Christians were hesitant to stand for their faith. But Bonhoeffer challenged Christians to hear the Word of God and to actually live it out for Jesus Christ.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision. Since that day, January 22, 1973, there have been an estimated 54,000,000 abortions performed in the U.S.

In a letter to a friend, Bonhoeffer wrote, “‘Speak out for those who cannot speak’ – who in the church today realizes that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us?” Although he was not speaking about the issue of abortion, Bonhoeffer’s words certainly apply.

The yet-to-be-born cannot speak for themselves. Their cries of pain cannot be heard from within the womb.

Will you speak up for those truly innocent ones who cannot speak? Perhaps it’s “the very least that the Bible requires of us.”

On this day and every day, please pray for the unborn; pray for women with unwanted or difficult pregnancies; pray for individuals and families torn apart by decisions they have made in the past and for decisions they are now facing.

God searches for you

At the turn of the 11th century B.C., in 1 Samuel 10, the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. Before leaving, Samuel instructed Saul to wait seven days at Gilgal. At that time, Samuel said he would come and offer burnt offerings to the Lord.

Waiting at Gilgal, Saul looked at the Philistine army which had amassed 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen against the Israelites. He saw his army of only 3,000 begin to dwindle as his men began hiding “themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits.” (1 Samuel 13.6 NASB) When Samuel did not arrive on the seventh day, Saul grew impatient, perhaps fearful, and decided to take matters into his own hands by offering a burnt offering to the Lord. Saul was a king, not a priest.

Immediately after Saul presented the burnt offering to the Lord, Samuel arrived …

Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you; for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over His people, because you have not kept that which the Lord commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13.13-14)

Saul had, of course, disobeyed God. He had sinned before God. Samuel, in effect, was saying to Saul, “If you had obeyed God, if you had obeyed the command that He had given you, then the Lord would have established, confirmed your kingdom on Israel forever. But now, your kingdom will come to an end.”

The next sentence spoken by Samuel gives great insight into the mind and heart of God. He said, “The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart.”

That search continues.

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (2 Chronicles 16.9)

In the push and pull of everyday life, there is a God who desires for Himself someone who seeks Him. But know that the search after God’s heart is demonstrated by the obedience of the searcher, the submission to His will.

Know that He is searching for you.

The 2nd Day

Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which he also went and preached to the spirits in prison… (1 Peter 3.18-19 WEB)

Call out to Jesus!

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. (Mark 10.46 ESV)

You are blind Bartimaeus. You are sitting by the road of life, a beggar, a victim of circumstances, until you recognize that Someone is near to lift you up.

Get sidetracked by Bartimaeus’ physical blindness and you could miss the whole point of this amazing story. Humans tend to do that, looking at the outward appearance and miss the inward activity, the spiritual miracle that God is performing in the heart.

God worked on the heart of this man and displayed His love and power to us as an example. This may be one of the most important true-life stories in the Bible.

Bartimaeus’ eyes were without light, darkened. He was a beggar, sitting by the roadside. The joys of life, great and small, were passing him by. People were moving, ever-onward toward their destination, but poor, blind, beggarly Bartimaeus sat on the sidelines – his very life was passing him by and his only hope: that a crumb would be tossed his way … now and then.

You are on a highway, today, a travelled way, making decisions that lead you toward your destination. You are there passively, as a beggar and victim, or you are a person seeking to fulfill the calling and vision of God for your life. It is your choice. It’s always your choice.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47-48 ESV)

Call out to Jesus! He is your only hope. He is your only answer to life’s questions. You can try to cast blame on others for your supposed predicaments; you can try to make excuses; you can wallow in self-pity; or you can seek the One, the only One, who can give you life and joy now!

Continue reading “Call out to Jesus!”

No Greater Love

“A life not lived for others is not a life.” ― Mother Teresa

Jenni Lake of Pocatello, Idaho, was only 16 when she was told that she had a 30% chance of surviving brain cancer. “Her father said: ‘She didn’t break down and cry or anything.’

“Her mother said: ‘When they told her that she might not be able to have kids, she got upset.’”

After aggressive chemo treatments, the tumors had begun to shrink.

Jessie Bonner of the Associated Press wrote in an article: “She had learned that she was pregnant … Jenni’s journey was no longer her own.”

A little more than one year after her diagnosis, Jenni, 5 feet and 4 inches tall and weighing only 108 pounds, was at full term in her pregnancy. On November 9, 2011, her son, Chad Michael Lake, was born. Jennie died 12 days later.*

She sacrificed her life for her little son. I was especially taken by the reporter’s words, “Jenni’s journey was no longer her own.”

Is the life you live ever, really, all your own?

*(From “Mother of the year” by Don Surber, December 28, 2011, quoting an AP article by Jessie Bonner.)

Continue reading “No Greater Love”

Light Out of Darkness

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”  –  C. S. Lewis

I can see it through the window. Rising above the hill before me, a great cloud begins filling the horizon with darkness, portending an abundance of rain and cold temperatures. It is a November fall day, after all, when the last warm days of summer and the first cold days of winter compete for attention with rain tossed in for good measure.

But a far more ominous cloud looms above the horizon of your life. It is a personal, spiritual cloud affecting the peace of your heart and your relationship with God and others.

The foreboding darkness promises greater personal conflict, economic hardship and spiritual turmoil. The contention carried by the darkness is almost palpable: you feel it but cannot touch it; you can describe it but cannot understand it. You witness it at home, school, business and church but you are utterly helpless to resist.

This is life without God.

You know what I am describing. Intense spiritual darkness seems to surround you, often pervading your heart, bringing tears, fears and confusion to your life. Spiritual darkness is a product of the enemy of your soul, Satan, and the direct result of seeking the world and the flesh. Spiritual darkness is the result of trying to live your life apart from a close, personal relationship with the Lord.

You struggle with this darkness every day. You see it in your lack of joy, in the division of relationships, in that gnawing feeling inside that tells you something is missing in your life.

The struggles come easily, yet, answers seem hard to find … but praise God, He gives you the Answer! Some 800 years before the birth of Jesus, God sent His promise of light through the prophet Isaiah.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60.1-3)

In this scripture, the darkness represents judgment that comes as the consequence of sin. But the Lord brings light: spiritual deliverance, heart-felt peace and immeasurable joy.

The Lord will give you His glory!

God will be glorified and it is His desire that He be glorified in you. What an unspeakably wonderful thought! As He places His glory, His Presence on you – as Jesus Christ takes active residence in your life through the Holy Spirit – the light of the glory of God shines through you and brightens the world around you.

It is not up to you to provide the Light, you cannot possibly do that. It is up to you to say “yes” to Jesus Christ and let Him shine brightly through you.

Are you afraid? Don’t be. He is with you to protect. Are you confused? Don’t be. He is the answer. Are you ready to give up? Don’t. He is your present and your future, your Light in the darkness, your Savior and your King.