January 1, 2018
He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers. Psalm 104:3-4
I’m an over-achiever. I like to work hard and feel that I accomplished something. I enjoy stretching myself to learn new things. While none of these are bad traits, in ministry they can be dangerous. I can begin to believe that my efforts are what yield success. I would do well to remember that humans generate earthbound results. Only God gives rise to true spiritual outcomes.
Several years ago, I had a vivid dream. I was mixing together three unlikely ingredients in a bowl to make something to eat. Jesus was standing nearby so I asked Him about it. “What is this going to be, Lord?” He answered, “It’s going to be manna for the people you’ll be feeding in my name.” I was surprised because the ingredients were such that you’d never mix them together to create anything appetizing. So I said, “But how will these three things produce something edible? I don’t understand.” He laughed and replied, “The secret is in the wind.”
With that I felt a gentle breeze enter the room. It blew over the ingredients and stirred them up so that they rose into the air to form a swirl before settling back into the bowl. The Spirit had touched the common ingredients and transformed them into something supernatural.
Wind has always been a sign of God’s presence. Wind and breath are often synonymous in scripture. Jesus breathed on His disciples and filled them with a power beyond themselves. No longer limited but Spirit filled, the Gospel message would spill out of their mouths with power and passion. Continents would never be the same as these ordinary men were transfigured into agents of heaven. Without impressive credentials, people would say of them, “We can tell they have been with Jesus.” The spiritual wind accompanied them. It disturbed the deep. The vast emptiness of people’s souls was filled with the Bread of Life.
God walks on the wind. He begs to be invited and is anxious to intersect today with the ordinary. He is passionate to alter the common things. He dreams of restoring what the Fall has eaten away. Where are you languishing? Why are you panting from self-effort to repair something in vain? The wind promises to blow across the carnage of our lives. We are meant to smell the aroma of Eden. Wherever the Spirit of God will hover today, the landscape will change. Transformation begins with an awareness of my great need.
Come, Holy Spirit, to my ordinary world. Amen
See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. Deut. 32:39 What exactly is a life-saving wound? A life-saving wound …
I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 Thanksgivings, like any holiday, can be wonderful or imperfect, in varying degrees. During the push to get ready for the big family dinner, feelings can get put on a back burner. The days following, …
Wealth and riches are in their houses; and their righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright; for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Psalm 112:3-4 We once had a family friend in the small town where I grew up who was quite wealthy. My aunt and uncle took him in as a young …
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? Psalm 90:11 Many live as the object of someone’s wrath. Through no fault of their own, they share the same last name with someone who harbors rage over the ways their life has failed to deliver what they think …
November 15, 2017
Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in God. Psalm 4:5
As a little girl, I remember hearing my parents say, “Now, we want you to be a good girl!” That often meant that their reputation was on the line and I might embarrass them. I was compliant only because I feared the punishment. Was my choice to behave properly the right kind of sacrifice, the kind David talks about? Hardly. I was selfishly saving my own neck.
From the very beginning, we have acted religiously in an attempt to distract ourselves from our own sin. It hasn’t worked. Down deep we know that we are flawed. And down deep we fear that God is not fooled. In spite of this, we still keep doing it to feel good about ourselves. We hope to appease an angry God but underneath all this striving is the shame of our sinful nature.
I heard someone pose an interesting question the other day. ‘Is it possible for an unbeliever to please God?’ Immediately, I thought of all the selfless acts that arise in the worst of times. People offer their lives to save another. They give generously to charities. They love their families and sacrifice for their well-being. But does all this please God? The answer, I believe, is no. The only acts that please God are the ones that are done with Him at the center of our motivation. He must be the point of my good deeds – not me.
So if unbelievers can’t please God, does this mean that believers will automatically get it right? No. So much of what I do is still selfishly motivated.
By God’s grace though, my intentions are getting cleaned up. I’m maturing just as I did in my childhood. I’m thinking about what happened as I got older and left grade school behind. My motivation for doing the right things began to change. My love for my parents grew and I wanted to honor them. I couldn’t bear the disappointment they would face if I made bad choices. This desire to honor them is the right foundation for a good sacrifice.
After all is said and done, I need to love God more. Easy to say but how is that accomplished? By knowing Him and receiving His love for me. God is the initiator of love and I am the responder. “We love Him because He first loved us.” I cannot simply will myself to love Him more. That encourages more performance and the need to prove something. My love needs to be of the genuine kind, born out of intimacy and amazement.
How could You love me? And yet, You do. Refresh the Gospel message in my soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly. Psalm 40:9-10 What do you …