Vote with God

Jake had always been an avid Republican and had recently joined the Patriot Tea Party.  He was concerned for his country and didn’t want to have it said, “That for evil to triumph, good men had to do nothing. “  He was going to do something.  He went to several Tea Party rallies and respected the message and the people.  They were considerate and polite even when they were harassed by people who saw them as a threat and a nuisance.

His new church had opened his eyes as to how far he had been from God.  He had been busy in his former church, but it was mostly out of a sense of duty and not because he was hearing God’s voice.  It had been a difficult transition.  It was hard for him to let go of his old habits and guilty pleasures.

Pastor’s goal was for everyone to have an encounter with God; to hear His voice and to fall in love with Him – returning to their first love.  Jake tried, but nothing much happened.  Pastor kept saying, “You have to have ‘floor time.’  By this he meant that you had to focus on God and shut out the world.  It hadn’t worked so far, but he saw others who were aglow with the love of God and wanted it too.

This night the worship was especially good and he felt himself drawing near to God.  As He did, to Jake’s amazement God showed up!  He was amazed and sat down putting his head in his hands.  He was lost in His Presence.  The service went on but he was unaware.  The service ended and he was still in wonder at God’s love and that He was available to him personally.

After that night, everything changed.  He had no heart to watch what was going on with politics and began to ask God what He would have him do with his life.   It seemed God thought that was too big and too premature to ask at this time.  So, Jake asked God, “What should I ask?”  The reply surprised him.  “Ask me how you should vote.”

God showed him that he should just go into the polling place and as he looks at the names on the ballot, ask Him.  Jake wasn’t sure he could vote for a Democrat.  God assured Jake that He would show him who to vote for and that he would have a wonderful sense of peace as he looked at the right name.

“Father,” Jake prayed, “Give me the strength to obey what you show me and not fall back on my old ideas.  Oh, and Father, please remember that this nation was founded by people who loved you.”  He was sure that God smiled.

Today’s Lesson:  When you give your heart to the Lord, you are not your own any more.  You have been bought with a price – a very high price.  Jesus gave His life on the cross so that you could become the person you were always meant to be.  You are now a child of the Living God.  He loves you.  He knows already who will win the election and so you might as well find out how he wants you to vote.

I can hear you saying, “But what if the person I vote for doesn’t get elected, will it mean that I didn’t hear right?”  Not necessarily, it just may mean that He wanted to see if you would vote for the person He showed you.  In the long run, it is about obedience and trust.  If you have died to your old self, you really won’t care who He asks you to vote for.  A dead man has no will of his own.

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I Surrender Some . . .

The musicians began to move from praise to worship music and the words went up on the overhead.  “I surrender all, I surrender all.  All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

Travis took a deep breath.  He had surrendered his time by teaching the young people.  He had surrendered his money by giving generously to the church and to rescue children from the sex trade and support children in India.  He had surrendered his talent by singing in the church choir and even occasionally performing a solo.  He had surrendered a lot.  He studied the Scriptures and could quote them with ease.  He had surrendered more than most, he thought.

He was somewhat proud of his ability to argue doctrine.  He disdained those whose opinion was different from his. He judged the preachers on television and even judged his own pastor.   He had given Jesus his whole head, but what he didn’t realize was that what God wanted was his heart.  Something about the song began to disturb him.  He sang out the words with his usual enthusiasm, but the band kept playing the tune over and over and over!

He began to examine his own heart and he found that it was closed and dry.  He changed the words to “I surrender some . . . “  Tears began to slip down his face.  He tried to get control.  He didn’t want anyone to see.  He wanted the song to stop!  He was, after all, the ‘go-to’ guy with all the answers, but it was too late.  The tears were flowing freely now.  Without any volition on his part, he found his feet moving toward the altar and there in front of everyone – all his acquaintances and friends – all that he had judged and disdained, this hard-hearted guy fell to his knees sobbing.  Shockingly, he didn’t respond to an altar call by the pastor, yet he found himself on the floor in broken-ness.  The worship team was still singing, “I surrender all . . .” and this tough, arrogant guy was being changed.

For the first time, Travis, felt the breath of the Holy Spirit flood his soul and he was swept into the arms of His loving Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Travis had surrendered his heart and his soul.  He was made new.

Today’s Lesson:

Today, there are many people sitting in the pews in churches who have prayed a prayer with their heads and think that they have something.  They go about doing good and thinking they are special.  They don’t know the One they think they are serving and this is a tragedy.   When Travis prayed the first time, it was with his head.  The Scriptures tell us that when we call on the name of the Lord, it must be with our whole heart and not our whole head.  Father doesn’t want just ‘some’ part of us.  He wants ‘all.’

If we have not entered by the Way that Jesus opened by His death on the cross, when the day comes, and we stand before the Lord, will He say, “Depart from me, I never knew you?”  The wheat and the tares – the real and the counterfeit – serve together in any local church.  So, as leaders and pastors, what can we do?  Is there an answer?

First, it is important that we examine our own hearts to see if we are fully surrendered and fully awake.  Have we walked with the Lord so long that we are more into the organization and the management end of things than we are into spending time in His Presence?  Are we lifting Jesus up in every service?  Are we drawing near?

The worship team in our story was fully prayed up and the anointing that rested on them lifted Jesus higher and the convicting power of the Holy Ghost was on hand to convict and to save.  When one of the prayer team knelt beside Travis, he just put a hand on his back and prayed quietly while the man wrestled with his flesh and came to full surrender.

When Travis finally stood up, the stress and arrogance were gone.  He had met the One who created him and he had changed his citizenship.  Somehow now, all of the things that he thought about his ideas and reputation didn’t matter.  He was made brand new.

Related Scriptures:

Romans 10:9,10   

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

1 Corinthians 13:3
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Psalm 51:10-17

10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Father Longing . . .

The divorce happened when the children were young.  She hoped it wouldn’t be too hard on the kids but she watched as her son begged for them to try once more.  As young as he was, he felt like he had caused the rift between Mom and Dad, but it just wasn’t so.  His tender nature wanted peace and longed for the family to be one.  He ached but he didn’t let Mom see the depth of his pain. Dad moved out and moved on.

I don’t know when she first knew the extent of his pain, but by then there was little she could do about it.  She tried not to talk about her own pain within his hearing, but she was not always successful.  He longed for his father and he loved his mother.  He was a tender spirit and hungry for a family.  When Dad remarried and then later Mom remarried, he made every effort to fit in so that his desire for a family might actually happen.

When he married, he determined to make things work – at any price.  In the beginning, he and his wife got along well.  He indulged her.  They were a two career couple and all went well until they had a child.   As he neared forty, he thought they had developed as a couple and were strong enough to ensure a stable family unit.

 After the baby came, she became depressed.  Worse yet, they were totally unprepared for the difference in their child rearing philosophy.  The change in their relationship hit him like a baseball bat to the gut!  The wall between them got higher and wider.  One day, she announced that she was no longer interested in maintaining the relationship.  His world crashed.

People long to find that one relationship that fulfills and doesn’t wound.  Fear of being hurt keeps us from trusting and we isolate or we just have random encounters.  Once in a while, someone talks to us about Jesus but skepticism believes it is just one more road to disappointment.  No father, mother, or spouse ever proved faithful and by extension God must be the one who was ultimately responsible for the pain.  How can we trust the One who calls Himself Father?

Today’s Lesson:   What we don’t understand is that God is Love.  Really!  The love of God is rich and pure and measureless.  His loving kindness endures forever.  He longs for us more than we long for Him.  But like any relationship, He won’t force Himself on us. He waits for us to draw near.  Then He reciprocates.

Father risked giving us free-will so we could choose to love Him like He loves us.  So the boy who became a man and a father can choose to love Him or not.  He may not understand that it is the only answer that will satisfy,  If he continues on his own, there will still be a longing in his heart and Father God will never quit longing for Him.   He will quicken His servants to pray for the young man, his ex-wife and their child.  He will send some to lift up Jesus in their presence and so draw them to Himself. 

The condemnation this young father feels will keep him focused on himself.  He will lack confidence  and will live from his soul.  He will hunger for the approval of others.  At last, if he runs out of options, falls to his knees and calls on the name of the Lord from his heart and faith enters, the love of Father God will wash over him and he won’t remember why he didn’t call out sooner.

When this happens, it is the beginning of fulfillment of the longing in both this young man’s heart and in Father God’s heart as well.

If you have a loved one who is far away, keep loving them and praying for them.  I have received comfort from the song that says, “The boy is reachable;  the girl is reachable.  To God he’s visible.  All things are possible.  If God can reach His hand of love through time, Touch an old sinner’s heart like mine, The boy is reachable, I know he’s reachable.”

Related Post:

Deep Calls to Deep

Confirming Scriptures:

John 12:32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Ezekiel 34:16 

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick . . .

I Sam 2:30 – . . . or those who honor Me I will honor. . .

Deuteronomy 5:29
Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

Psalm 10:17
O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear

Psalm 13:5
But I have trusted in Your loving kindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

Psalm 14:1
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

Psalm 27:8
When You said, “ Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 69:32
The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.

Psalm 27:8
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Abide

The lights in the house were on and the warmth exuded from that home with a welcoming glow.  Late at night, the young woman arrived home with her date.  Since the lights were bright, the young man didn’t linger in the car.  He graciously walked her to the front door and thanked her for their time together.

This young gentleman recognized that this young woman had one who watched over her and therefore he respected her and had a healthy fear of her protector.  In the light, there was no thought of taking advantage of her or making suggestions he would not have made in  the presence of her guardian.

The light beckoned the girl to come inside and abide in the safety it provided.  It seemed to say, “Come in.  You are safe.  You are loved.”  Her big brother opened the door to her and when she stepped across the threshold, she was at home in the presence of her Father’s love.  He greeted her with a hug and then sat down.  He was her own daddy.  She sat at his feet and told him of the young man and where they had gone that evening.

She rests her head on his knee.  She is at home and has no worries.  She knows that her champion will take care of her and she is totally secure.

When we have receive the finished work of our big brother, Jesus, we meet the Person of the Holy Spirit, who invites us into the family home in the Kingdom.  Our Father God dwells there in unapproachable light.  As His child,  we belong to Him and freely  step into the light with Him where He listens to us and talks with us.  He beckons us to come home through the door He has provided in His Son Jesus.  He is waiting.

This is what abiding is – it is being at home.  So, open the door and come in.

Today’s Lesson:  In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light and there was light.”   And God saw the light and it was good.  God divided the light from the darkness and he called the light ‘boker’ or day.  .  . (‘Boker’ means orderly and discernible – or order from disorder.) . . . and the darkness he called ‘erev’ which is translated eve or night. (‘Erev’ means chaotic.)

The Scripture also intimates that Adam and Eve were clothed with light when they were in the Garden and walked with Father in the cool of the day.  They weren’t just nude when they fell in the Garden of Eden.  The light went out and in their shame they scrambled to cover themselves.  This was the beginning of religion.  Religion is always man’s attempt to cover his actions to try to be acceptable to God, but the central message of the Bible is that God Himself will cover us (with light) – if we can but accept it.

Father never wanted to establish a religion when He sent Jesus to be our Redeemer.   He wants a family that comes to Him of their own free will and gets back into the light.  Choose to live and abide with Him – to be at home with Him.  When we do, He is our shelter, refuge and loving Papa.  We can rest in His light and love.

Many who have found the door in Jesus but have never stepped into the Light.  There is a fear of what He will say, but He is not mad.  He knew you couldn’t do it on your own.  He risked it all by giving you the choice of choosing Him or trying to work it all out through reasoning and religion.

Whether you are just inviting Jesus in today or you have had Him in your heart for years, here is the question, “Have you found your way to the Father?”

Related post:  https://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/diving-deeper/

http://joyousbells.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/love-story/

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-answer/#more-58

http://www.notafan.com/

Confirming Scripture:

Genesis 1, 2 and 3 

All of Psalm 91 which starts out: 

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.

John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:9
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

Deep Calls to Deep

If you love to swim, you know the exhilaration of diving into a deep pool and the freedom of swimming under the surrounding water and the cool, refreshment of the deep.  The limitation is how long you can hold your breath while longing to be able to breathe under water and continue to go deeper.  But for many, there is the fear of the water smothering them and keeping them in its arms and never letting go.

But there is a Deep that is safe and where you are free.  It is the deeper life that God has promised to those of us who draw near.  It is an exhilarating place to be.  It surrounds you with love and refuge.  It holds you and gives you the freedom to go.  But the deeps are so enticing that when we finally get there, we never want to leave.

The depths of the Lord are the ‘everlasting arms’ and the ‘secret place of the Most High.’  It is the place where we abide in Him and He in us.  We are lost in Him.

I once heard an illustration of a bottle in the ocean.  The vessel, if it is tightly capped, will float and bob on the top of the water.  It is in the ocean but it is not filled with the ocean.  A bottle, that is uncapped and open to all the ocean has for it, takes on water.  The more it takes on, the deeper it goes until it is completely filled up and lying in the deep.

And so it is when we go to the ‘Secret Place’ with open spirits, we get lost in Him and in that place, our will comes into line with His will and our way is established and our plans succeed.  Of course, by then, our plans will be His plans and our life will be His life.  His plans are perfect and He gives us a future and a hope.

Just as a person who dives into the deep and takes a deep breath, dies to this life, so it is with those of us who move into the embrace of the everlasting arms breathing in the sweet aroma of His Presence.  We die to all that seems important in this life and become one with the Father.  It is a place of romance, refreshment and direction.  It is the sacred romance.

If you haven’t taken the risk and moved to the deep, I can highly recommend it.  There is no thrill on earth, no peace in the natural realm, no relationship, and no drug that can compare.  It is the ultimate addiction.

Todays Lesson:  The way into the throne room that we have found is to lay aside all pride and agenda; put on worship music that points you to the Father, turn it up loud enough that you can’t hear what you are saying, and get alone in your prayer closet,  in your favorite chair, or on the floor.  Focus all of your attention on our great God, who He is, and His great gifts to us.  He is our Father.  He gave us His Son and His Holy Spirit.  He gave us wisdom.  They are ours if we will  but receive them.  As we come into His arms in the throne room, we enter into His Presence and we find true joy.

I invite you to risk diving into the deep right now.  Give up all that you have held on to.  All excuses, fear, guilt, shame and whatever else has kept you separated.  He isn’t mad at you and doesn’t want to punish you.  He is a Lover. He is wants you.  Enter in and share His great Love.  He who owns the deep and it’s depths is are calling for you personally!  He calls out of His great desire for fellowship and romance with you.  He’s waiting.

Confirming Scriptures:

Revelation 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb

Psalm 42:7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Proverbs 16:3 (AMP)  3Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed.

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Seek and See

Could the church be in the dark?  Could we be sitting in the pew or standing in the pulpit blinded to what God wants us to do?  Is it as if we are walking with a white stick to let everyone know that we lack vision.    The God of this world has moved in and blinded us.  We have become blind guides leading people who are hungry for more and we have nothing to give.

How did this happen?   Our hearts were once soft and pliable and then . . they began to harden.   We began to develop our own ideas and argue doctrine which divides the body.  We began to judge others that didn’t agree with our opinions.  We began to look like the world and the world couldn’t see any reason to join our ranks.  Worse even than that, there were many who had come in and were tired of the hypocrisy and the division and they exited the ‘fellowship’ becoming church hoppers or just staying home.

How could we have slipped so far below our privilege?  How do we return to our first love?  Somewhere in our heart of hearts, we know we have missed it, but pride and self-condemnation keeps us from the answer.  We must return to our first love.

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you, saith the LORD:”

THE LESSON:

Today is the day of return.  The lesson today is simple.  Stop trying.  Stop striving.  Go into your prayer place and close the door, turn up worship music so loud you can’t hear your words and get on your face.  Judge yourself and you know you won’t be judged.

He isn’t mad at you.  He loves you and He is waiting for you.  He is waiting with forgiveness and love.  Don’t be afraid.  If you will seek Him with your whole  heart, He will enfold you in His presence.  He will give you rest and you will be refreshed.  When you seek, then  the hard shell will fall away and your heart will soften again and be pure.  The Scripture says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  Seek and see!

Confirming Scriptures:

Psalm 27:8
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Psalm 34:10
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Psalm 40:16
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.

Psalm 83:16
Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.

Psalm 105:3
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

Psalm 105:4
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

Proverbs 28:5
Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

Isaiah 55:6
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Jeremiah 29:11-14a –    11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.   12Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.   13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.   14And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity,

Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 7:7, 8  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Matthew 5:8   Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.