Putting God's Word into Practice…

Happy Birthday! I’m 15!

And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:5

I can vividly remember the morning God’s love and truth transformed by life.  It was a Sunday morning, October 31, 1999, and the church was wrapping up its service by singing “I Surrender All.”  My heart was on the verge of doing just that.  For over a month, my mind and soul had been in a tug of war for my very life.  My mind argued, “You know the facts. You know about salvation. You know about sin and its consequences. You know about Jesus and believe He was hung on a cross to die for the sins of the world and raised back to life. You believe in heaven and hell.”  But my soul was countering, “Even the demons believe that stuff and they tremble.”  Salvation is more than knowledge.  It is a moment of transformation when your old life dies, and God supernaturally gives you a new life.  A moment of surrender, repentance, forgiveness, cleansing, freedom, peace and joy–THAT LASTS!

  • God chose me to believe in Him
  • God called me to put my faith in Him
  • God gave me the gifts of faith and grace
  • God forgave my sins and made me whole
  • He opened my eyes to His love and truth
  • He changed me and continues to daily.

Today I celebrate 15 years of salvation, 15 years of hope, 15 years of peace and 15 years of surrender.

By His power may my life song continue to be, “I Surrender All.”

“I Surrender All” by Jadon Lavik http://youtu.be/uaTXNxUXcn4

P.S. There are some dangers of being a 15-year-old that I think can easily transfer from natural age to spiritual age that I want to be aware of and work on this year:

  • Not try to be independent
  • Never lose the wonder
  • Stop taking things for granted
  • Realize I’m not entitled to what my peers have
  • Don’t forget what’s important–not fill my time with entertainment


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Deuteronomy 4:1-8 ~ Reason for Rules

There is a big push right now in understanding and receiving grace.  Sometimes that comes at the expense of holiness.  Although God’s grace is abounding and covers all our sins, there is still a call from the Lord Himself to holy living.  The gift of grace does not give us freedom to sin, but freedom to live to the glory of God.

  • God gave rules to His people so that we would know how someone who belongs to God should strive to live.  When Moses is giving instruction to the Israelites in this passage, he says over and over “hear them, do them, keep them.”  We don’t hear them, do them, keep them to earn our salvation but out of reverence for the Rule Maker.  Out of our love for Him and our knowledge that His rules are in our best interest, we want to honor Him.  It doesn’t affect how much He loves us, or whether we will get into heaven.
  • Obedience to God’s rules is a great testimony to those who have only heard about Him.  Living lives of holiness is what sets God’s children apart in an unholy culture.  Obedience points people to the purity and wisdom of God.
  • He also gave them to us to direct us to our need for Him to rescue us because we can’t keep all the rules.  For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon Him? (Deut. 4:7)  WHENEVER!!  Sin makes us feel separated from God, but as soon as we call upon Him, He draws near again.

Rules are only bad when our hope is in the rules and not in the Rule Maker.  Only the One who makes the rules has the authority to forgive the ones who break the rules.  WE ALL BREAK THE RULES!  We all need forgiveness.  Calling on the Lord, restores our fellowship and nearness with Him.  And to that I say, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the LORD GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

Be Near by Shane and Shane http://youtu.be/KdOi_GL0oEg

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Deuteronomy 3 ~ Servant

O LORD GOD, You have only begun to show Your SERVANT Your greatness and Your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? (Deuteronomy 3:24)

God displays His greatness and might constantly, but recognizing it depends on our view of ourselves.  If we laid a diamond on a white piece of cloth, it would not look nearly as radiant as when it were laid on black cloth.  The loftier the view we have of ourselves, the dimmer His power looks to us.  The lowlier our view of ourselves, the greater His glory shines! God reveals His character and power to His servants.  Servants!  Do we view ourselves as servants?  If we are not witnessing God’s power in our lives, maybe we have too grand a view of our status.

God has been bringing verses to mind with this word “servant” in them quite often.  Some specific ones are:

  • “Have you considered my servant, Job?” (Job 1:8, 2:3)
  • “I am your servant, may it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38, Mary)
  • “Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:5-7)
  • “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)

What do those verses tell me:

  • God’s eyes are always on His servants.
  • Servants of the Lord are surrendered to His ways and take Him at His word.
  • Servanthood was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.
  • When I see Jesus, He isn’t going to say, “Well done, good and faithful exerciser…reader…Bible study leader…cook…organizer…blogger” but “servant.”  All those things could be part of being a servant, but servanthood has to be the umbrella over them; the foundation under them.

How can we keep this humble view of ourselves?  Fix our eyes on His greatness and might!  Let His brilliance captivate us!

Lord, at the end of my life, may my epitaph merely read, “Servant of the Lord.”

Bonus Thought:  In the first part of the chapter the most common verb phrase in some form is, “The LORD gives…”  It is easy to forget the generosity of the Lord. He is a giver!!!  Let’s focus our minds on that aspect of His character today!

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Deuteronomy 2 ~ From Wilderness to Battlefield

For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing. (Deut. 2:7)

Wow!  What an amazing God!  Although God sent them back into the wilderness for 40 years, He did not abandon them.  He continued to see each step they took, and to provide for their needs all along the way.  God is faithful, even when we are faithless.  It’s who He is, and He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)  Even when we are disciplined and have to face consequences for our poor decisions; He is still God, and He is still good.

As God started to lead the Israelites back towards the promised land for the next generation to take hold of it, they had to pass through other countries’ territories.  God told them over and over, “Don’t take that land, I gave it to…”  The Lord helped Esau’s and Lot’s families take possession of the land He had chosen for them.  He aided them in overthrowing people much taller and stronger than themselves and cities more fortified than they were equipped to seize.  God wanted to do the same thing for His people, the Israelites, but they were rebellious, fearful, and unbelieving.  Nothing is too big for God!  He raises up and brings down kingdoms.  He is sovereign over kings and nations.  And no one can thwart His plans.

The Israelites proceeded towards the promised land in accordance with the commands of the Lord.  The Lord “had begun” to give them the land, but a battle still needed to take place.  However, they had a choice as to how they would fight those battles. When we are following God, we will have battles too.  When we try to fight on our own; the results are drawn-out, painful and devastating (Deut. 1:42-44) When we surrender to Him and let Him do the fighting, we have victory (Deut. 2:36).

  • Did God make a promise to you that is taking longer to come to fruition because of your fear and unfaithfulness?  
  • If you are in the “wilderness” because of poor choices, do you recognize God’s protection and provision even there?
  • Do you believe that God is bigger than your biggest adversary and stronger than your strongest stronghold?
  • Are you letting God fight your battles, or are you trying to fight in your own strength?

“Rise up and set out on your journey…” Don’t wallow in the wilderness; begin a battle! With God all things are possible!

P.S. Going from the wilderness into the battlefield is a recurring theme of the Bible.  Even Jesus, spent time in the wilderness before engaging His mission to achieve victory over sin for all mankind.

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Deuteronomy 1 ~ Following vs. Wandering

See, the LORD your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deut. 1:21)

God set the promised land before the Israelites. He was giving it to them, and told them to take it.  He commanded them to not be dismayed or fearful.  The people responded with, “Let us send MEN before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word.”  Whenever we don’t take God at His word or seek Him for directions, but instead put our hope in man’s word, there is sure to be trouble!  “Man” doesn’t know the end results, but only knows what he sees tangibly and what he deems himself capable of.  “Man” often forgets to take into consideration the power and promises of God.  This is sin!  It displays a rebellious and unbelieving heart.  God calls it “evil.” (vs. 35)

When the people chose to listen to the reports from men about the tall, powerful people and the fortified cities, it struck fear in their hearts.  They couldn’t believe the promise that God would go before them and fight for them–that He would carry them  just as He had since their departure from slavery in Egypt.  When we fail to recall the faithful care, provision and protection of the Lord, it makes God angry.  God sent the Israelites back into the wilderness–the great and terrifying one–for forgetting that HE IS ABLE to set free, destroy strongholds, to bless and keep His promises.  The promised land was withheld from their whole generation, but promised to their children and two other men–Joshua, who would lead them after Moses’ death and Caleb.

Caleb was allowed to enter the promised land for one reason…”because he has wholly followed the LORD!” I’m very generous with my exclamation points, but the Bible is not so much.  For there to be an exclamation point at the end of that description, it must be pretty exciting to the Lord!!!!

Based on this chapter, we are either following the Lord or we are wandering away from Him.  Unbelief, fear and rebellion lead to wandering.  Those attitudes and sins cause us to miss out on the “good land” that God wants to give His people.  Wholly following the Lord brings freedom, joy and blessing.

What does it look like to “wholly follow the Lord?”  Join me in asking Him for the answer and let’s press on to live lives for Him worthy of exclamation points!

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