Thought for the day: God wants all so He can increase us

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In Genesis 26:4, God promises Abraham that He will multiply his descendants, make them as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all of the land that Abraham has been sojourning in.

Gen 26:4: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed

But what is important to notice is that this promise is reiterated to Abraham after he had pursued heart-wrenching obedience to God by offering his only son, Isaac, as an sacrifice to the Lord. (See Genesis 22) God stopped him from this action and provided a ram in the thicket as the sacrifice, but Abraham’s heart was purified in the crucible of testing and he came forth as gold.

After this testing in the Refiner’s Fire, Abraham received that word in the Scripture we just read. I believe that this timing is not coincidental as I believe that the God Who instituted the law of sowing and reaping understands that what we sow in our lives is what will be multiplied.  God didn’t want Abraham’s self-life and self-determination to be what was multiplied as the stars in the sky.  He wanted the faith that would propel Abraham towards radical obedience to be what was multiplied in the earth.  So once the dross had been burned away and the lone heart of desperate longing for the Lord was left, God spoke the word of multiplication over Abraham and his seed.

The depth of purity of Abraham’s trust and devotion to his God, was the breadth of the multiplication of his descendants. Abraham’s descendants, both natural and spiritual descendants, are billions strong now and this corresponds to the depth of his faith.

When God allows us to go through the crucible, it is to refine us.  He doesn’t want to multiply wrong motives and our self-life.  He wants to multiply us but He needs our worldly attachments to become infinitely small so that He can become infinitely big.

Religion keeps God small and most people are happy with that arrangement because they can maintain their lusts and desires along with what they believe is God. But if truly have God, we have a fire – a Consuming Fire.  And this Fire will not allow the weeds and thorns to strangle the harvest and overtake the fruit we can produce for the Kingdom.

If our hearts are truly toward the Lord, we will welcome the Refiner’s Fire.  He is loving and gentle toward us, but unrelenting toward anything that will steal our destiny and possibly rob us of our eternal place with Him.

Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Let’s pray:

Dear heavenly Father, we come to You as the Holy Fire.  We know that your holiness is as pure and consuming as fire and we desire to be changed and purified. Father, we can’t purify ourselves or even desire to tear our hearts away from the attachments of this life.  Our family, friends, and achievements are all to us at times.  But You have called us to higher life where we can hold on to You with all we are and also enjoy the blessings of this life without those blessings owning our hearts in trade.  We are yours.  You purchased us with the blood of your Son.  We are also the children of Abraham and as such, we can tap into that faith that takes us beyond what we see with our eyes into a trust that radically obeys.  Holy Spirit, please do this work in us.  As the days grow darker and the day of Your appearing comes closer, we need to cross the line and be all in with Jesus.  No more games.  No more comfortable religion.  No more halfway obedience.  All in – by Your grace alone.  In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.

 

Would you take my suggestion?: The true test of respect

take-my-suggestionI love to make suggestions.  I feel really happy when I suggest a restaurant to someone and they try it and have a great experience.  I will go to great pains to passionately describe why someone should try a certain restaurant, or book or check out a podcast that I have listened to.  And it bothers me to no end when the person I am trying to convince gives me the impression that they don’t have an interest in trying out my suggestion.  I have often thought about why this bothers me so much. What do I care if they miss out on a fabulous meal or a marvelously written book? It’s their loss, right? But it does bother me.  A lot!

In giving this thought, I realize that I am bothered simply because I care.  I want the people in my life to have every great experience I have had and I want to be able to share in that with them. For instance, when a friend comes back to me after having read a book or listened to a podcast I recommended, and they gush about how amazing it was, we now have something deeper to share.  We now have a common experience that we can talk about. I also have the joy in my heart of knowing that my recommendation added value to my friend’s life in some small way.

So did you know that in the Bible God has made countless recommendations that add value to our lives? Not only does He have the most intimate knowledge of what is best for us, But He knows what we will enjoy, what will keep us free from misery, and what will feed our souls. Out of this most intimate knowledge of us, He recommends actions and behaviors.

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Follow closely, love deeply, obey quickly

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This past weekend, I went away to a lovely spot called Rangeley, Maine.  Rangeley Lake is a peaceful yet breathtaking lake surrounded by mountains that seem to take off right out of the lake.  There isn’t one view that isn’t spectacular.  I went up with some friends and we spent a lot of time around the lake.

On the second day there, we were sitting lakeside in our beach chairs, drinking in the late summer sun, reading and napping when I noticed a dog jumping in the lake down by the dock.  The dog was jumping off the dock into the water and swimming back to shore.  He was getting all kinds of praise from his owner who was throwing sticks into the water that the dog was delightedly fetching and returning to his feet for the next round.  Then some boys joined in the fun and were swimming with the dog as well.  After about 20 minutes of this play, the owner decided it was time to leave so he said Good-bye to the boys, called his dog and they walked off the together side by side.

My friends and I were sitting about 20 yards from the dock and I noticed that the dog saw us and wanted to come and ‘check us out’.  He started to head in our direction, but after one firm call from his master, he changed course back to the young man’s side.  The dog’s owner probably realized that five ladies lounging in their beach chairs might not want a sopping wet dog to walk on their belongings or shake the water off his coat all over them!

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A lesson from my broken toe: Trust the expert

Toe.jpgI broke my toe on the last day of my vacation.  I came back to the beach house to begin cleaning and doing the loads of laundry that needed to get started when I hit a small wooden stool with my baby toe.  As I looked down, the small toe on my left foot was pointing West!  Not good. I thought I must have dislocated the toe and having done that previously on the other foot, I tried to pull the toe back into the joint.  No luck – only searing pain.  Then I allowed my adult son to try his hand at getting the errant digit back into line.  I bit down hard while he tugged and pulled.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  My husband and I decided that I was going to require a visit to the Emergency Department at the local hospital.

When we arrived, the waiting room was packed.  I overheard a very irate wife of an elderly man blow her steam off at a nurse telling her that they had been waiting for over two hours to be seen.  UGH. This was NOT how I wanted to spend my last evening of vacation.  My son was returning to his home in another state the next day and every minute with him and his lovely fiancée was precious. The thought of wasting hours watching CNN in the waiting room was making my head pop off.  I felt antsier than a kindergartner sitting through a Vagner opera.

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