An Extra Seat At The Table

GGBlog

I crack open my bible to the book of Matthew this morning and in reading chapter 21, I read about Jesus’ triumphal entry on a donkey. Prophecy is being fulfilled, he’s revealing himself as more than a prophet, he’s a King! It’s purely awesome. Being “just” Thanksgiving today this story hits me – Where is Jesus today?  Christmas is flashy with the lights, trees, nativity scenes and stockings hung by the chimney with care. Easter gets the bunny and eggs and pastel decor and the remembrance of the cross and crown of thorns, but thanksgiving is nothing religious per se; it’s just a day of food and family and a lot of it. Granted, we do – and should – pause and give thanks by counting our blessings. I, for one, actually do an mental inventory of all that I am thankful for, but where is Jesus?

Of course he’s here. He’s always here, but do we make a place for him at the table? Do we invite him to fellowship with us and make this day Jesus centered?  We should! Yes I am thankful for a roof over my head, good health, a closet full of clothes, running water, beautiful children and adorable dogs, but all of this pails in comparison to what Jesus did on the cross for you and me. My sins have been abolished, I am given the assurance that I will spend eternity in heaven with him AND above all, He died for me.  My sin caused separation from a perfect and Holy God, He took it all onto himself and died. I’m so undeserving and today of all days I cannot take that for granted.

So I pledge, as I sit at the table today, I will pull up an extra chair to honor Him and to make Him a part of my Thanksgiving day. Today is an important and significant day to say thank you to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 He turned rivers into a desert,
    flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
    because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
    and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
    that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
    and he did not let their herds diminish.

39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
    by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
    made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
    and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
    but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

 

 

 

If, Then… It’s All On You

if-then

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 26

In this chapter there are nine “if’s” and twenty-four “I will’s.” What does that say about our part and God’s part? For example: When God says in verses 3-4, “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.”

It looks to me like we have the choice and He has the promises.

I have always been interested in understanding whether or not we [people] are given free will. I learned from one of my biblical mentors, early in my Christian walk, that there is no such thing as free will. The argument stands that if we are sinners and can’t help ourselves, so we are slaves to sin and therefore, have no free will.

The counter argument is the opposite. We have free will because we are conscious of our sin and therefore, we have the liberty to make the right choices on how to live so we do have free will.

This chapter, in my opinion, supports the latter. God is making it very clear that He will respond to the choices we make. If we sin, He will punish. If we obey, He will reward. I suppose we could get really petty over the causes and effects of decisions we make the the way God responds, but for today, I’m good with knowing that making the right choice will always work out in my favor. If I rebel, disobey, or try to live outside of God’s will, God may take me through a time of pruning, character building, personal growth, desert… whatever you want to call it.

And of course, in Romans 8:28 we know God makes all things work for the good of those who love Him AND we also know that because of Jesus our sins are covered; past, present and future. But, that certainly doesn’t mean we get a free ticket to sin. It means we have choices and I appreciate that Leviticus 26 is reminding me that making Godly choices ultimately rests on you and me.

Sin Substitute

Slushy Mess

Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 6

My daughter and I were at Target on Saturday and she asked for a cherry slushy from their concession area. It was one of those self-serve stations and when the red liquid froze it eroded like a volcano all over her hand, the counter top and floor. She looked at me with big blue eyes and said, “Mom! It blew up!” I was feeling a bit embarrassed for her and overwhelmed by the messy project before us so I asked the cashier for her help. She came over with the most genial, light-hearted spirit and said, “No big deal, that happened to me once.” Bless her for her sweetness, she took the awkwardness out of the moment and even offered some humor amongst the mess.

She cleaned it up and gave us a new cup for a second chance. As she walked away I said, “Thank you for taking such good care of us.” Another woman, within range of my comment, gave me a very strange look. My look back at her must have been equally odd so she qualified her reaction with a statement, “I am sorry, I just had to see who said that because it is so unusual to hear someone be pleasant and complimentary these days.”

It is unfortunate that our retail and food service employees take such abuse from their customers, its even more unfortunate that it is uncommon to see someone treating them with dignity and respect. This story is timely, of course, because you know I’m going to make this story about our devotional this morning.  Isn’t there a parallel to what God is doing with the sin offering?
In chapter 6, the instructions are again given to the priests. The sin offering, which speaks of the work of Christ on the cross, was to be offered where the burnt offering was sacrificed. The burnt offering speaks of the person of Christ. Christ must be holy, harmless, and free from sin to be a satisfactory offering for sin. He must be able to save. This is why the virgin birth is essential in the plan of salvation. This is the One who was conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin. The sin offering was holy because Christ was free from sin—though He was made sin for us. It was my sin and your sin that caused Him to die, not His sin. He didn’t die simply because He was arrested by the Romans. He could have stepped off this earth at any moment. He told Peter that He could call for legions of angels, if He wished to do so. He was made sin for us and He died in our place.

Just as we had a chance to make another slushy, God gave the Israelities a chance to right their wrongs. In verse 5 God tells Moses,  “Or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering.”

Jesus paid it all – even the restitution we could not pay. What a great perspective to start the week.

 

Dress For The Best

Fashion Model

Today’s Devotion: Exodus 28.

When I was younger, my Mom used to tell me to wear my “Sunday best”. I had a couple of dresses that were very special and I only wore them to church on Sundays or dress up events like funerals, weddings, school pictures or concerts. As I read Exodus chapter 28, I thought of my Sunday best.

God was very specific about this certain outfit because it is the attire that Aaron would need in order to enter into the presence of God. It appears that Aaron was promoted in this chapter so God is making sure that Aaron was appropriately suited to represent the position of high priest.

Have you ever heard the quote, “Dress for the position you want, not the position you have?” After reading Exodus 28 and the criteria of this Godly dress code, I believe that statement applies here – Dress the Best for God. What does that say about our choices for our wardrobe? As it has been in the past four chapters of Exodus, God has every intricate detail covered and in this one, He is a bit more personal. This one describes our own physical presence in relation to a perfect God.

It causes me to think about what a Christian woman should wear to represent Christ. I know we are not supposed to dress immodestly because we don’t want to draw negative attention to ourselves. If we want people to see us as followers of Christ, as I tell my daughters, in words, actions, thoughts and deeds – what does that look like? I think the way we dress can say a lot about who we are and how we desire to honor God.

This chapter is a call out to me on what dressing for God looks like. It certainly leaves us with much to think as it relates to our choice for dress. We don’t just turn our Christianity on or off whether its a Sunday or any other day of the week, so the question I will take to my closet this morning is, “How can I dress for Godly Success?”

Dangerous Assumption

Just Believe

Just Believe

Genesis 20:11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’

I want to just smack Abraham. Here is a prophet of God and he lies to Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. His rationale, “There is surely no fear of God in this place.” [This is where I would launch a good back hand across the back of his head.] So what Abraham – Isn’t that when God reveals himself? But Abraham is afraid that telling the truth could result in death so he chooses to lie instead?

What?! Like getting caught in a lie would guarantee his safety? As a result, Abraham made a dangerous assumption in Genesis 20.

I’m seeing a theme in Abraham’s life and I believe Abraham’s greatest fault is his disbelief in God. Yet, the single, most fundamental thing that God asks of us is to believe. That is a theme throughout the entire bible and is also God’s message to us. In Genesis, we see evidence of God’s heart for those who believe and then fast forward to the new testament and to sum it up in one verse, Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” Without belief in God, nothing else matters… NOTHING! From our own salvation to how we live out our lives in reverence to God as a [action] believer!

My message as I interpret what God is trying to tell me in Genesis 20 is to do a heart check on my belief. Do I believe God? Confession… I want too. Maybe I need a good smack to the head too. This should be a no-brainer, but this is where my story and Abraham’s are parallel. I am prone to do things as to how I ‘think’ they should be rather than believe God. I am unapologetic when I say that I believe IN God – It’s the simply “BELIEVING God” that I still need work. Therefore, I rest in His grace and appreciate biblical example’s, like Abraham, who are given to us to show that God is with us, even when we take matters into our own hands.

Girlfriends Wipe The Tears

Just Being There

Just Being There

Luke 7:13

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” (NIV)

I ran into a friend yesterday and in the moment decided to grab a spontaneous lunch. I had not talked with her in awhile so it was great to take the opportunity to catch up. We started with the usual question, but this time with well intended meaning, “How are you?” She immediately melted into tears.

I don’t know a woman alive who hasn’t experienced this situation. It amazes me how God puts people in your path at just the right time and those people are usually girlfriends, right? I had no idea (at the time) that she was anything but o.k. Upon our initial embrace she was smiling, her eyes were sparkling, she was genuinely grateful to see me and she looked happy. But that magic question, combined with a safe and honest environment, allowed her to stop the charade and let it all go.

What proceeded to come out of her mouth was a situation that I knew I could not fix. As my mind was striving to find the right words and the most comforting gestures, I found myself praying instead. I was praying that God would intervene. I prayed that God would be her comfort and be her source of peace; that he would love her and reveal Himself to her in and through these (horrible) circumstances that had her pouring out to me.

I didn’t have the right words to say and I most certainly didn’t have the answers that would make everything o.k. for her, but as we departed and she assured me  that “she’d be fine.” I left with a sense of confidence that she really will be more than fine. I trust that God will work in and through her situation. I’ve been in her shoes where I have needed a friend, sounding board, confidant, and shoulder to cry on. It is true that no one and nothing can fix us when we’re broken, but it sure is a gift from God when we have someone to walk alongside of us in those times of need and as much as prayer doesn’t seem like enough, I know she is not alone.