Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #153

#153 "The Grand Tour"
June 24, 2008
"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." (John 17: 24)
I am so grateful to God for the apostle John. Through the Holy Spirit, John lets us eavesdrop on God praying to God. God the Son praying to God the Father. In verses 1-5, Christ prays for Himself. In verses 6-19, He prays for His disciples, and in verses 20-26 He prays for all believers...that's us. "The Lord's Prayer". Jesus' will was one with His Father's will. He said, "Father, I want". Since His will is identical to the Father's (see John 4:34, 5:30, and 6:38), it will certainly come to pass. And what does Jesus want?
What He wants is for us to be with Him where He is. Those who are "in" Him, He wants also to be "with" Him. Because of His words in John 14: 1-3, about returning to take us to be with Him where He is, we can safely draw the conclusion that He wants us to be in Heaven with Him. But that's not all. He wants us to see His glory. What was revealed to the disciples while Christ walked the face of the earth, and what is revealed to us in Scripture, isn't even the half of it. "The glory that Jesus revealed in His earthly ministry is a mere glimpse of an eternal reality that existed before creation." (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Rodney A. Whitacre) And Christ is waiting to show that glory to you and to me.
My earthly father always took pride in the places where he worked. He would talk about each company as if he were the owner himself. And if I was ever able to join him at work, he would always take me on the grand tour. I've toured my share of offices, grocery stores and restaurants. For a short time before cancer started to get the best of him, he worked at a place called Greenfield Village. Greenfield Village was founded in 1929 as an educational and historic landmark, maintaining the buildings and stories of America's past for future generations. My dad loved to sit for hours and talk about all the attractions. He was getting too sick to take us on a tour himself, but we listened as he told us all about it. He ended up in a nursing care facility for awhile before he went home with my mother for his last days. I followed him through every inch of that place, as he navigated his walker up to the second floor, through the kitchen and dining areas, and outside to walk the grounds, proudly showing me his temporary quarters. 
I went to visit him at the hospital one night just a few weeks before he died, and Dad tried to tell me about the ginormous Christmas tree that adorned the Village every year. He said that it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. He tried to go on, but the tears welled up in his eyes. He already knew that he would never see that Christmas tree again. But he was so proud and he so wanted me to be able to see it one day. And I think this is just a small glimpse of how Christ feels about showing us His Heaven and His glory.
Scripture defines heaven as "a kingdom, an inheritance: there are rivers of pleasure, trees of life, glorious light, rapturous songs, robes, crowns, feasting, mirth, treasures, triumphs. They also give us positive representations: the righteous dwell in the presence of God; they appear with Christ in glory. Heaven is life, everlasting life: glory, an eternal weight of glory: salvation, repose, peace, fullness of joy, the joy of the Lord". (ATS Bible Dictionary). And Christ is waiting at the doorway, excited about giving us the grand tour.   
He wants us to see His glory. He wants us to see who He truly is. He wants to reveal His whole self to us. Strong's defines His "glory" as His dignity, His honor, His praise, and His worship all in very apparent form. 1 Corinthians 13: 12 says, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." I imagine Jesus thinking, "They ain't seen nothing yet!"
Talk about knowing the heart of Christ. I believe that it is revealed right there in John 17:24. He wants you to be with Him and He wants to show you His glory. He wants to give you the grand tour and let you see Him like you've never seen Him before. And I believe that He is so excited about that. Can't you just imagine Him smiling and bursting with anticipation as He waits for you there? As He waits to welcome you home?
And I'll bet dollars to donuts that Dad's got Jesus convinced that He needs help with giving tours.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #152

#152 "Remember Martha"
June 17, 2008
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10: 41-42)
I "googled" the word "worry" this morning and my search turned up 171 million results. That's 171 plus 6 zeros! One of the sites that I happened to click on dealt with how to be free from worry, and a tip they encouraged was to "rearrange your mental furniture." In essence, the suggestion was to write your concern on a worry list and choose to worry about it later. You could pick another time to worry and then postpone it again at a later date. If you're lucky you'd forget that worry altogether.
Call it being apprehensive. Call it concern. Call it being anxious or bothered. Call it a burden, a trouble or a sense of uneasiness. Worry by any other name is still worry. Worry is focusing your attention on something moodily or at length (Roget's II: The New Thesaurus). I heard someone once define worry as worshiping the words of the enemy. Ouch!
I do not agree with, nor do I endorse any of the secular methods for beating worry. But I DO like the term, "rearranging your mental furniture." That term, found on a secular website, is quite biblical. Watch this..."be made new in the attitude of your minds." (Ephesians 4: 23) Watch again..."Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world (the methods of secular websites, I might add), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12: 2) If that's not rearranging your mental furniture, I don't know what is.
I was running out of quiet time this morning, listing all of my concerns and cares, one by one, in the presence of the Lord. Okay, let me be honest and call it like it was. I was worrying. Valid concerns. Understandable anxiety in anyone's book. But worry by any other name.... The difference between any method of beating worry that the world wants to serve me, and God's way of doing things, became abundantly clear when my Father said, "Remember Martha."
Fast and furious, my fingers turned the pages of my Bible to Luke, Chapter 10: 38-42. Five simple verses but jammed packed with the only true and lasting prescription for worry.
Jesus was having dinner at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Martha served. Mary sat. Martha was angry. Mary was calm. Martha worried. Mary worshiped. Mary chose the one thing missing in all of the world's methods of beating worry. She chose a Person. She chose Christ. She chose the One who said, "Do Not Worry". (see Luke 12: 22-31)
Will you choose to worry and be upset about many things or will you choose what is better? Will you write your worries on a worry list to come back and worry later, or will you write them in a  journal so that you can come back to it and praise God for answered prayer?
Your concerns are valid today. Your marriage, your children, your job, your ministry, and your finances are important facets of your life. And some days, like Martha, you want to say to Christ, "Lord, don't you care?" (v. 40)
He does care. (1 Peter 5:7) He knows what you need. (Matthew 6:8) And He is able (Ephesians 3:20) to work it all out. Rearrange your mental furniture by embracing those truths. Mary sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. Let us sit at His feet together today and hear His words. "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed...ME." Oh, how my heart is beating with the hope that those words speak to at least one of my precious "Tuesdays" friends today. 
Let me leave you with the words to one of my favorite songs, "In The Presence of Jehovah".     
In and out of situations that tug-a-war at me
All day long I struggle for answers that I need.
Then I come into His presence.
All my questions become clear.
And for a sacred moment,
No doubt can interfere.
In the presence of Jehovah.
God Almighty, Prince of Peace.
Troubles vanish.
Hearts are mended.
In the presence of the King.
Through His love the Lord provided
a place for us to rest.
A place to find the answers
In hours of distress.
There is never any reason
To give up in despair.
Just slip away and breath His name.
He will come and meet you there.
In the presence of Jehovah.
God Almighty, Prince of Peace.
Troubles vanish.
Hearts are mended.
In the presence of the King.
If that doesn't completely rearrange your mental furniture, my friend, I don't know what ever could. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3)
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Monday, June 09, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #151

#151 "On My New Front Porch"
June 10, 2008
"In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war...David remained in Jerusalem." (2 Samuel 11:1)
My youngest son is graduating from high school tomorrow. After 21 consecutive years in the same school system, Chuck and I are closing that chapter of our lives. I've been thinking a lot about what happens next...especially about the possibility of moving. One of the selling points of our community was the once excellent school system. We've stayed through the years, and tomorrow we'll applaud and cheer at our last graduation. (BTW...this is commencement ceremony #5) Nothing is left to tie us to this community, so will we move? Don't know for sure.
One thing I do know "for sure" is that there is a new home being prepared for me right now. A mansion, in fact. Wow! Never lived in one of those! And one day Jesus will take me with Him, give me the grand tour and hand me the keys. Well, I probably won't need keys--we'll be able to leave our doors wide open and give a warm welcome to all who come to visit.
I hope that my mansion has a huge front porch.You know the kind...a long Southern styled one. I hope that I'll have white wicker chairs with comfy cushions to sit on. Every month the trees will bear a different fruit and I just know that the smells will be delicious. (Can smells be delicious? I think they just may be.)  I plan to have lots and lots of company.
I want to ask Abraham how fast his heart was beating as he walked with Isaac up the mountain at Moriah.
I want to tell Joseph that if I were one of his brothers, I might have wanted to leave him in a pit too! What with all that bragging and all! I want to tell him that I too watched Almighty God take what was intended to harm me and work it out for good.
I want Moses to bring over those stone tablets and tell me first hand what it was like to watch the Red Sea part.
I want to sip tea with Ruth and thank her for showing me that one decision can change my destiny. And I think that Esther and I will linger on the porch a good, long while, swapping stories about our one night with the King and how it literally changed everything!
I'll thank Solomon for his wisdom and Jeremiah for letting God use him to place the call to ministry on my life in 2005.
And since this is what prompted this morning's "Tuesdays" anyway...I want to ask David why he stayed in Jerusalem that day. If it was customary for kings to go out with their armies in the spring time, for goodness sake, why didn't you go? David, that one decision affected everything in your life from that day forward! That fateful choice led to adultery and murder. You lost a young son, had another turn against you...one who sent you on the run...again. Another son raped the sister of his brother. Oh, if you had only gone with your army that day... My burning question is...what made you stay?
I want to meet Mary, the mother of Jesus and His brothers. I want to know how long it took Peter to overcome cursing.
I really want to know what happened to the woman of sin who anointed Jesus' feet at Simon the Pharisee's house. What was the rest of her life like?
I can't wait for Martha to visit. "Girlfriend, we were worried and upset about so many things, weren't we?" Maybe we'll share some apple pie on the porch. Pie that we didn't have to bake ourselves.
I want to meet the Samaritan woman, Lazarus, Paul and Timothy too.
Finally, I'm going to carve out one long, glorious afternoon to chat with the woman caught in adultery. You see, I want to tell her that I was caught too. My Pharisees didn't carry real stones but they lined up to hurl judgment and hurtful words, that left me no less wounded than if they had hit me with physical stones. 
The same Man came to both of us. The same Man looked us both in the eye and spoke the same words..."I do not condemn you." The same Man set us both free. Over 2000 years apart, we are BFF's (best friends forever) in our hearts. He loves us both. And it's not adultery this time. It's love...pure, unconditional, unending, everlasting love and forgiveness.
And that chair over there. Do you see it? It's the one with the best cushion, the one under the loveliest tree and it's the one reserved just for that Man. Jesus Christ is the One, my friend, that I most long to spend time with ...on my new front porch.
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #150

#150 "Lazy Days of Summer"
June 3, 2008
"Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge."
(Proverbs 19: 27)
Last night, the weatherman said that the threat of frost was over and we were now in the throws of real summer weather. It's a new month, a new week and the beginning of a new season. Some of our kids are taking their final exams. Work loads are getting lighter as folks will be taking time off to spend with their families. Those of you with younger ones can stop saying, "Do your homework!" Bedtime isn't so important for the next few months. You might be planning your summer vacation as we speak, picking out the perfect beach or the perfect sightseeing spot. I pray that you will take the time to sip some lemonade, smell the flowers, and get some much needed rest. That's my plan.
In boldness mixed with love, allow me to give you a warning. The Bible studies at your church may have suspended for the summer. The pews are a little emptier during Sunday morning service. I don't know how to speak it any plainer than this...in all your resting, do not rest from the Word of God. It may have taken years for you to reach maturity in your Christian walk. You may be at the beginning of your journey with the Savior or somewhere in between. But it only takes one hot second out of fellowship with Him and with His Word, to go right back where you started from. "Stop listening to instruction...you will stray from the words of knowledge." When a person stops listening to instruction he stops learning and growing. Attaining wisdom and true growth is not a static state. We need fresh word, fresh revelation and fresh vision. Without it, "the people perish". (Proverbs 29:18 KJV) Perish right back into backsliding.
Quiet, purposeful time with God each and every day is a need as vital to your soul, as food and water is to your physical body. Make that time. Morning is best for me. The world is quiet. Mercies are new. I'm still in my jammies but I'm putting on the armor of God. (see Ephesians 6) None of us can predict what a day will hold. The "Spiritual Mafia" of rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms are already awake in the early hours and plotting your demise. I'm not being over-dramatic. My Bible tells me so. Eat your spiritual "Wheaties" so that you will be able to stand and withstand whatever comes your way. Take up your only offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  
You may not be involved in a formal Bible study for the summer, but you can certainly do something on your own. I'm not suggesting anything intense with a lot of involved homework. You may have already picked out a couple of romance novels for warm weather reading, and there's nothing wrong with that. Enjoy! But might I suggest a good devotional book to go along with your Bible reading? I am touched each day by adding "My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers to my quiet time. I have been using it daily for years and because it's based on the Word of God, it comes alive in a new way every day, no matter how many times I've read it. Do something that will take you deeper into the Scriptures and make you think. And pray. Do something that gives you new perspective and fresh insight into God's Word for you. I'm going to do a book study by Kelly Minter called "No Other Gods" suggested on Beth Moore's blog. She promises that it will not be too intense. I'm holding you to that, Beth!  I'm excited and expecting God to speak a fresh word to me during these lazy days of summer. I'm going to open wide my mouth and let God fill it with good things. (Psalm 81: 10b) (FYI: "No Other Gods" can be found at LifeWay: Biblical Solutions for Life)
God wants you to spend these days of summer with Him. He has things to tell you. He wants to share His heart and His secrets with you. "Stop listening to instruction and you will stray."  Draw near, stay in the Word and you will "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3: 18)    
Have lots of barbecues. Sit by the water. Drink lemonade, eat watermelon, and spit out the seeds. Enjoy your family and your friends. Rest a little from your labors. Fall will be here before you know it. Feed the birds and run through a sprinkler. But above all else...stay in the Word and bask in the Son.
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