Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Will You Lay Down?

an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
2. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion

Idol is a word that has been thrown around a lot over the past few years. In secular circles American Idol is the new big thing, while for centuries, Christians have been asked to lay down their idols. There are certainly a few common idols that we quickly call to mind like materialism, prestige and reputation, but what about digging a little deeper.

The second definition above says that an idol is a "person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion." An idol is anything that we place our hope and trust in other than God. So, I guess an idol could also be classified as anything that prohibits us from total devotion to God by placing that devotion elsewhere. Hmm...that's something to think about. What are some idols you struggle with? Here are a few of the ones that seem to get me (maybe you can relate to a few of them):

1. emotions
2. grades
3. reputation
4. the clock (my schedule)
5. achieving
6. stuff/covetous (ie. a house, better clothes, a garden...)
7. selfishness (my own desires)
8. My dreams and plans (sometimes I seek these above God's will)
9. comfort
10. laziness (lack of discipline and drive)

So, why is it some important to understand what our idols are? As I've been reading Isaiah, I've noticed that only when the people turn away from their idols, when they lay them down so that they can fully embrace God, it is at that point that the Lord can come to them and truly rescue them. This is because God can only truly lead us, guide us and pour out His best on us if we can receive them in full. We must not allow anything to get in the way of living out His amazing law that He has set in place to bring us true joy in peace.

Ask God to show you the idols in your life. What are they? Hebrews 3 says this:

12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
So let us now encourage one another. If you would like to share the idol that God has placed on your heart to give up today, reply to this blog, and we can all lift each other up in prayer!

Today I will strive to lay down my idol of emotions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Didn't Get the Job!

I still remember my junior year of high school. I was finally old enough to work at camp. This is a job I had longed to have since my first visit to Cohutta Springs Camp. I couldn't wait. I filled out my application, and met with the director. I was sure I would get the job. My references were wonderful, I had a lot of confidence, my interview went well...and...I knew the brother of the person who was doing the hiring and he said he would put in a good word for me. With that type of recommendation I was sure I had the job. As my friends and I all got our letters from Cohutta, telling us our fate for the summer, I was excited as all my friends eagerly opened their envelopes to find that they were going to be working at camp. Then, I got my letter. I opened it, never wondering what would be inside. I was sure I would be spending the summer with my friends and all sorts of fun kids. I slowly slid my finger under the envelope seal. I pulled out the piece of paper it contained and began to read the words. I was on a "waiting" list. It was a nice way of saying I didn't get the job!!

"What?" I thought. "How could this be?" I knew the right people - I had a really good connection, I had great credentials (I had been working in the business office at the school for goodness sake), I wanted to work there way more than some of my friends I had to convince to apply so we could be together for the summer and they got in. What happened??

As you can imagine, this was a low point in my life. It seemed I had so much to put my hope and trust in. The problem was, I put it all in the wrong stuff. Isaiah 31 tells us of a people who trusted in the strength of horses, chariots and horesemen in Egypt. They poured their faith into these feeble, earthly strongholds rather than looking to and seeking the ultimate strength, their Heavenly Father. This is exactly what I did. As I recall, I don't even think I spent much time talking to God about what He wanted me to do that summer. But that wasn't the only time I placed my trust in things of this earth. It seems I have often placed my trust in reputation, a job, people I know, my own knowledge, or any number of things. However, I think David truly had it right when he wrote:
"Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.
Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God."
~Psalm 20:6-7

May this be our prayer today - that we may boast and trust in our Lord!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Am I a Rebellious Child?

If you know me at least somewhat decently, you're probably laughing at even the idea of me asking this question. "Laura...rebellious?" your probably thinking, "That's the funniest thing I've ever heard." So maybe I don't run around living a shockingly wild life, coming to my family only for more money so that I can get a new tattoo, just one more piercing, more cigarettes, drugs, boos, etc. Nope, You won't find me with any of the above.

However, this morning I came to discover that I am quite rebellious. Isaiah 30 talks about God's rebellious children. Here are the characteristics (see if any are familiar)
1) They execute, but not God's plan
2) They make alliances and are nice to people, but not of God's spirit
3) They move forward with plans and their lives, but without consulting God
4) They take refuge and shelter in things other than God.
5) The would rather hear pleasant lies than the truth (v9)

I don't know if any of those ring a bell with you, but they sure do with me. I continually move forward in my life without even seeking God's will. I do things out of wrong motives and I look to things of this world for shelter, comfort and safety.

In verse 15, God tells us that salvation lies in repentance and resting in the Lord; and that true strength comes from quietness and trusting in Him. Stick with me for a minute as this point will spring to life in just a moment.

Despite my (our) rebelliousness God is eagerly waiting and paying close attention. He wants us to call out to Him, and He wants to be ready when we do. When we turn back to Him for comfort, safety and salvation, He is eager and ready to show us grace and compassion. We will clearly hear God's voice and direction and when we fully turn to Him, He will pour His blessings out on us.

Then comes his wrath!! Dun dun dun... but have no fear, His wrath is against our enemies. Because of this truth we will rejoice because we can rest in His protection!

Wooo Hooo! I'm so glad that God loves me and that He is eager to forgive even a rebel like me!

Monday, March 26, 2007

His Blessings are the Awesomest

So, as you can tell by the date of my last blog I have been a little busy lately. I just realized that I didn't even have a chance to post anything over spring break - wow. Well, just to catch you up a little bit. I'm still going to school. Things with Joshua's House (the ministry I'm starting) are moving forward. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in the Junior department at Sabbath school. This is a big time commitment for me, but has been a wonderful blessing. Each week I see new signs that the kids are moving toward making a decision for Christ, and that thrills me! I've been working - still tutoring, and am possibly going to be facilitating a women's support group pretty soon. As you can see, I have been quite busy. I have to admit that amongst all this business I get so overwhelmed. I tend to become discouraged and bogged down with all that has to be done. Sometimes I even feel trapped my my enormous to-do lists, and I wonder if it will ever be over. But you know what? God has been blessing.

That's one thing that I have been noticing more and more lately. God blesses me so much. At the beginning of this school year, I prayed that God would help me to see the wonderful blessings that He gives us through nature. I asked for this request specifically because I knew that there was so much I was missing. And sure enough, I was right. God has been opening my eyes. I love being outside more now. I get so excited when I see pretty flowers blooming when before I would have just walked right by.

God often blesses us in so many ways and we just don't get it. I know for me, it's easy to get caught up in all the things that seem to be going wrong in my life. It's easy to turn mole hills into mountains. It's easy to forget to trust the One who holds the world in His hands. Yet what Jesus said in Matthew 7 is so true (as if I should be surprised). He said,
" Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

It is so true, yet how often do I live like it's true? How often do I thank God for the wonders He is working all around me? How often to they go completely unnoticed? I pray that I may continually become more and more aware of God's working in my life. I also pray that my faith can grow. God will keep His promise, and He has promised to care for me always.

But wait, before I wrap up the fun little (OK big) post there's one more thing I have to add. The quote from above is not complete. The last thing that Jesus says after all of that is this:
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
God blesses us so much! How can we best thank Him for those blessings? By sharing them with others around us. By sharing where these blessings came from. By sharing God's love and gifts with those around us. I pray that God can turn my selfish heart into one of thankfulness and giving.