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Archive for September, 2012

It’s amazing how the things that happen in our lives that seem like negative events are often things that make way for our lives to be better. God has a better plan than I do, and He can see the bigger picture. I just have to have faith that he will fulfill His promises and that He knows best.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

Most of you who will read this blog know that I had a music teaching position last year for 6 months, in lieu of a teacher who had to suddenly leave. I was not selected to continue in the position, as there were other more qualified and more experienced people who were interviewed. I also was passed over for another position for reasons that I believe were less than legitimate. I was rather frustrated with this for a while, really wanting to be able to help my husband in payment of the bills, his college loans, and general savings. I also wanted to be able to have some fairly decent health insurance, and have a better standard of living than I had been able to in the early years of my life. I was somewhat depressed by the turn of events; I had been so looking forward to having a full-time job!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Now I realize that God has put me in a wonderful position in life! I currently teach music lessons twice a week; I have about 9 students total, and I am clocked in for about 6-8 hours a week (depending upon the lesson schedule). I also substitute teach every week, usually averaging 2 days per week, though sometimes I get longer jobs for teachers out on illness, vacation, etc. I have the opportunity to practice my teaching skills in varying classrooms and I am able to experience different teaching styles through the lesson plans given me by the absent teachers. I use the time that I am not working to keep the house looking neat and clean, run errands, cook/bake, study scripture, practice music for church worship team, exercise, pay bills, manage the mail, grocery shop, and do laundry. I am able to spend time with my sister occasionally, and help her with college tasks. I have time to develop skills needed to care for my husband and be a good and loving wife. I nearly always have the house cleaned up and smelling nice, dishes done, and dinner on the table when my husband gets home from work. He doesn’t have to do anything! Once a week I usually attempt some form of new culinary or baking venture so that my husband has something delicious and different to eat, and isn’t stuck with the same foods every day. I also enjoy making healthier foods (I made fresh bread!) that aren’t processed or canned. And the best part is that I can just spend time relaxing with my husband when he gets home — neither of us have to be stressed or rushing around to get things done in the evening because it is already finished. I love being a part-time worker and full-time housewife!

All this is to say, when God closes a door for you he has another one open somewhere that he wants you to go through. It may not be open yet, and you may not recognize it when you walk through it, but have faith and patience and you will see that God has everything under control. 🙂

” Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

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“Yield”

Knowing God’s Will Part 2

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

  • Introduction: The exercise of His rule or SUPREMACY over all His creation.
  • Proposition: In Jonah 1:4-13 we will examine God’s sovereignty at work in fulfilling His plans.
  1. By Using UNBELIEVERS  (vs. 4-10)
    1. a.      To AWAKEN Jonah from sleep to prayer (vs. 5-6)
  • Notice that Jonah had not been praying, even in the midst of the terrible storm. Jonah was a prophet, and he knew that God would not hear his prayer as he ran from Him and committed the sin of disobedience. (“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Psalm 66:18)
  • The unbelievers were praying to their gods and nothing was happening, but they knew Jonah to be a prophet of God, and asked him to cry out to the Lord. They recognized God’s sovereignty, and that he was a powerful God.
  • Thought to consider: has there ever been a time in my life when a non-believer asked me to pray for them because they knew that I was a Christian and thought God might heed my prayer to help them?
  1. b.      To CONFRONT Jonah’s disobedience. (vs. 7-10)
  • Jonah’s behavior was irresponsible: he brought calamity upon others through his disobedience. “What have you done?” they asked(vs. 10). They knew he was running from God.
  • Thought to consider: Has MY sin ever caused someone around me pain or inconvenience? If I love God, why am I still doing _______________?
  • When the sailors cast lots to see who had caused the problem, the lot fell to Jonah. God even used an inanimate object to point out his sin.
  • Jonah refused to go witness in the place that God had called him to, and so God used him as a witness to the unbelievers on the boat!
  • As Charles Spurgeon said, “God never allows His children to sin successfully.”
  • Thought to consider: has God ever used a non-believer to point out an area of sin in my life? “If you’re really a Christian, why do you ________?”
  1. By using the WEATHER. (vs. 4, 11-16)
  • If you do not listen to the whisper of God’s voice, he may have to stir up a storm to get your attention!
  1. b.      STIRRED up a storm (vs. 4, 11-14)
  • God had given him a direction, as he gives many of us an “impression” of what we need to do, but far too often we continue to row our own way in our little boat to escape God’s commands.
  • As the night progressed it became increasingly stormy. Even in the storm God calls us to “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”(Psalm 46:10)
  • “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
  • God has you under the umbrella of His will. If you step out from under His umbrella, you WILL get wet.
  • Psalm 107
  1. c.       CALMED the storm, resulting in reverence. (vs. 15-16)
  • The unbelievers saw the result of Jonah’s actions, how God calmed the storm when Jonah was thrown overboard: “At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.” We do not know if this means that they gave their lives to the sovereign Lord, but we do know that God used this situation to touch their lives, and these pagan sailors reverenced Him. God even used Jonah’s disobedience to reach people!
  • Many times in life God may not calm our storm, but God will always calm the faithful believer to get them through the storm.
  • God promises that we will have trials in life, but He has overcome them. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • He has also promised that he will never leave us: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence,’The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?’”
    (Hebrews 13:5-6)

 

  1. By using a FISH(vs. 17)
    1. a.      APPOINTED a fish to swallow him.
  • God had a very large fish in the right place at the right time, so that it could help Him complete His plan to save Jonah. When Jonah was thrown overboard he probably thought He was going to die. And STILL he didn’t pray.
  • In Numbers 22 God even used a Donkey to save Balaam’s life, and finally the Donkey had to SPEAK to him before he would listen.
  • Thought to consider: Have I ever known that God was trying to speak to me using someone/something, but purposely ignored it? How much tribulation do I have to go through before turning to God in obedience?
  1. b.      PRESERVED for His purpose.
  • God saved Jonah, both from himself and from the trials associated with running away from God.
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  • God wanted to save Nineveh, and he wanted to use Jonah to do it. Jonah, in his half-digested state, would have been an effective witness to the Ninevites.
  • You can never escape God’s plan, only slow it down for a while.
  • Conclusion: are you yielding to His sovereign will?
    • Do not forget God’s sovereignty! In the old testament, God told the Israelites to set up markers at certain places so that they would remember the good things that God had done for them. What good things has God done for me that I should remember?
    • Thought to consider. Man often acknowledges God as supreme over all creation, but not over man. Am I guilty of this type of thinking?

 

“Remember this, keep it in mind,
take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’
11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.
12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
you who are now far from my righteousness.
13 I am bringing my righteousness near,
it is not far away;
and my salvation will not be delayed.
I will grant salvation to Zion,
my splendor to Israel.

Isaiah 46: 8-13

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“The Man Who Said ‘NO’”

Knowing God’s Will for Your Life, Part 1

  • Introduction: Have you discovered God’s will for your life?
  • Proposition: in Jonah 1:1-3 we will examine two facts concerning God’s will.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”  But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”

Jonah 1:1-3

  • Thoughts to consider:
    • Have I ever run away from or ignored God’s will for my life?

 

  1. We must DISCOVER it.

Discover: transitive verb

a : to make known or visible : expose b archaic : display

2 a : to obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time : find <discover the solution>4

  • We must actively seek to know his will.
  1. His will is revealed through His WORD.
  • The Bible is our instruction manual, we must read it to discover His will.
    • 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
      • Some translations say “study to show thyself approved”, this means that we are to discern what behavior God approves of.
      • Psalm 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Read all of Psalm 119 for further information!) His Word will lead us in the right direction.
      • Eph 4:14 – Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Read chapter for context)
      • If we only talk to God and don’t read His word we are like a broken radio circuit, always transmitting but never receiving.
      • James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
      • General commands:The Word of God gives us principles that all Christians are to follow; these are the commands that all who claim to follow Him must obey and are not only for an individual. These are things that we do not have to pray about to find God’s will, it is clearly written for us to know.
        • Love God and love Man:
          •  28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating… he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[c] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[d] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] There is no commandment greater than these.”” Mark 12:28-31
          • Gracious speech:
            • “Let no [b]unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification [c]according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:28
          • Forgive as you have been forgiven:
            •  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [x]you.” Ephesians 4:32
          • Be Holy, as He is Holy:
            •  “13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a] Peter 1:13-16
          •  Get rid of your old sins:
            • ”Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”  Colossians 3:5-10
      • Concept: His will is not revealed through circumstances; you can be acting completely out of God’s will and still have positive circumstances.
        • When someone runs from God, Satan is more than happy to provide transportation and accommodation.
        • Example: Jonah just happened to find a ship bound for Tarshish; he could have believed it to be a sign from God that he should take that ship, when he clearly knew what God had commanded.
        • Sometimes that “peace” you feel about a decision can be false.
      • Thoughts to consider: How much of the Bible do you know is God’s will for your life?
  1. We all have a COMMISSION.
  • “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 [e]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [f]always, even to the end of the age.””Matthew 28:18-20
    • This should read “as you are going, make disciples.” It’s a given that people will be going about their daily business. As we do this we should be making disciples. Start in your Jerusalem, in your home town, the places that you go daily.
    • It starts at home: make disciples and be witness to those around you.
      •   So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8-12
        • By sharing your life and living according to God’s commands, you are a witness to those around you.
        • “Be prepared to kindly give an answer for the hope that is in you. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
        • Romans 1:16 –  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”
  1. We must OBEYit.
    1. Even when it is DIFFICULT.
  • It is often difficult to obey when the task is unpleasant:
    • Paul was beaten for preaching the Gospel. Acts 16:22, 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
    • Jonah was commanded to take a message to Nineveh, telling them that the wrath of God would come upon them if they did not repent (Jonah 3). Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, enemies of the Jews; Jonah did not want them to be saved, he wanted them to suffer and be destroyed. This would be as if a Jewish American were told during World War II that he needed to go to Nazi Germany to take a message to the Nazis so that they could repent and be saved.
    • Other difficult tasks: love your neighbor, ask forgiveness, give forgiveness, be holy.
      • Sometimes there are things we need to do that are difficult, like turn off that television show we shouldn’t watch (Psalm 101:3 “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile.”) or reach out to that person in need (James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”)
      • Role-specific commands.
        • God also has specific commands in the Bible that apply only to certain people. There are commands for husbands and wives, children, parents, unmarried women, leaders, pastors, etc. and there are general commands that all Christians must follow. (See the books of Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Tutus 2,  and Proverbs 31 for some specific instructions regarding your station in life. )
        • Thought to consider: what is my specific role in life right now? Are there any specific commands for me in the Bible? Am I keeping them?
  1. Following instead of FLEEING.
  • Jonah went completely the opposite direction of what God told him to do.
    • Even if you do not run from His commands, inaction is still disobedience.
    • Circumstances seemed right for Jonah to do his will, instead of God’s.
    • It is best to be in God’s will now, to bring Him glory and follow His commands. God promises to bless those who follow His precepts. Psalm 103:17-18 “But from everlasting to everlasting
      the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”

      • Noah’s family was spared – Genesis 6
      • Abraham was blessed – Genesis 18:17-19
      • Lot was saved – Genesis 19
      • God’s will does not go away if you ignore it, and whether you like the command does not change it.
        • There was a story of a woman who would throw sticks in the air every time she came to a fork in the road to determine which way to go. Upon observing her repeatedly throwing a large number of sticks in the air one day, a man asked her why she threw so many. She replied “I throw them until they land in the way I want to go!”
        • Thought to consider: Am I guilty of trying to conform God’s will to my desires?
      • The Lord will discipline those who are disobedient, as a father disciplines his child.
        • Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. Jonah 1:17
        • Solomon’s Kingdom was taken from him. 1 Kings 11:10-11
        • King David’s son died, other men slept with his wives, and his household was filled with calamity and violence. 2 Samuel 12:7-14
        • Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land. Deuteronomy.
        • Israelites forced to wander for 40 years.
  • Conclusion: Mold me and make me after THYwill.
    • Pray for God to show you His will for your life, and earnestly ask Him to change your heart and shape you according to his will.
    • In summary, 3 ways to know God’s will: 1. Read the Bible. 2. Pray. 3. Seek Godly counsel from mature believers.

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Life was frustrating for a while there, but I must be honest: my life is not that difficult right now. There are so many people who are struggling with something more than what I have been through lately, and I need only focus on God and His greatness to see how small my problems really are. By complaining, worrying, or being stressed I am basically saying that my problems are unique and that I am above God’s commands to be joyful in all things. We have a wonderful God who calls us to be a joyful light to all, and we should strive to answer that call daily. Realize His sovereignty and let Him have control and you will have nothing to worry about!

 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

My husband and I have been listening to the audiobook of “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer, and I have recently started reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan (a birthday present from my husband). In the latter book Chan quotes the former…Tozer makes the profound statement:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the church is always God himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”

What is God like? What words can we use to describe His attributes? He is holy, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinite, immutable, just, merciful, timeless, and many others. We cannot even fathom all of God’s attributes fully (if we could understand God completely, then he would not be God). If He is so many things, and so much more than we could ever comprehend, is He not worthy of praise? Of devotion? Of sacrifice? Of all the wonderful things God is, I am going to strive to honor Him and worship Him for every one, and to change my schema of who God is to match the Biblical identity of who God really is.

What do you conceive God to be like?

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