Powerful Stuff! Twofold!

Powerful, powerful stuff! 

The altar from which God gives us the gift of himself is not for exploitation by insiders who grab and loot. In the old system, the animals are killed and the bodies disposed of outside the camp. The blood is then brought inside to the altar as a sacrifice for sin. It’s the same with Jesus. He was crucified outside the city gates—that is where he poured out the sacrificial blood that was brought to God’s altar to cleanse his people.

So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hebrews 13:10-16 (MSG)

If you take a moment to read Matthew 23, you’ll see that Jesus came against hypocrisy, especially against the Pharisees. The came at people with condemnation, withholding grace, mercy and compassion, when they themselves did not keep the law.

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides!You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV)

I am fortunate to know many people who live what they preach. They humble me. They inspire me to do the same. I thank God for them.

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What’s funny is I did not even come over here with the intention of posting this, but this is where God led me. What I did come over here to post is this:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;make known among the nations what he has done.

Psalm 105:1 (NIV)

And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17   (NIV)

Praise—Praise—Praise—

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3 (KJV)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (MSG)

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

Praise, praise, praise, praise, praise, praise. God inhabits our praise. Invite Him in by praising Him.  Continually invite Him in by continually praising Him!

 

Letting It All Go

file000165458860For the last few weeks we’ve been attending a new church. I love my other church, and hope to one day visit, but after a month of illness and some scheduling conflicts it seemed God was pushing us in another direction. I’ll admit that that first week I walked in with preconceived notions. I’m not sure what those notions were exactly, but I knew I didn’t expect to feel comfortable, especially since the topic was on finances and tithe. Not that I care one way or the other, it’s all God’s money anyway, right?

But the last church we checked out I felt like a squirrel on its last leg with a bunch of vultures soaring above. I think it was because it seemed like they had their own preconceived notions, or maybe it’s because it was a Baptist church 😉 Anyway, their approach in greetings was as if we were new Christians, or not Christians at all, but then maybe they could tell we were Wesleyans and not Baptists  *wink, wink*  and were ready to transform us to their way of theology.

Seriously, I’m just joking, I love all my Baptist family and friends. I dislike arguing theology almost as much as I dislike politics. There should be no argument when it comes to Christ Jesus. The message is simple as John 3:16 testifies, For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)  Of course that believing includes believing there is no other way to God except through belief in Jesus, the belief that he died and rose from the dead.

Anyway, I guess my ADD is showing. :/So, back to what I was talking about.

The first thing I noticed when I attended that first week was how great it was to be praising and worshiping with a group of people. Okay, so that wasn’t the first thing I noticed. The first thing I noticed was the packed sanctuary and how the numbers of people in attendance was like ten times what I was used to. The second thing I noticed was the worship band. Guitars, bass, two keyboards, drums and a sax. The third thing I noticed was how much I missed the simplicity of our former church’s praise and worship. Simple and soft. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love all sorts of praise and worship, from Chris Tomlin to LeCrae, Third Day, Skillet, Fly Leaf…. the list goes on, but there is just something gentle about the simple that invites the Holy Spirit to take up residence.

But then the band began to play. I sang, albeit dragging my feet a little because I missed our little praise and worship team. The second week I sang with a little more heart, but I still missed the other church. This week  I let it go.  I ignored what I wanted and gave it all over to God, all of it. I sang out, raised my hand. I invited the Holy Spirit to totally move in me. In ME.

I have a friend who moved from Kansas to Maine about ten years ago. The one thing she kept saying was how much the church lacked in praise and worship, but then she’d say God was moving in her. She needed to be able to praise whether she felt moved by the music or not. I thought of her and our conversation this morning right after I lifted my hands to God.

Funny, the message was on tithing and being managers and not owners of what God gives us. Not just in finances but in everything, my gifts, my compassion, my love…everything and anything God has laid upon my heart is His and I need to be a good manager, not an owner and horde the things.

file000398613366Including my stories.

I knew Yours for Eternity, the working title for the book I sold to Emily Rodmell at Love Inspired Historical was a God thing from start to finish. The book was written in less than 55 days. Not a giant feat for some writers, but for me it kind of was. Revisions took less time. And then I sent it through a critique group, well about 2/3rds of it went through. I sold it before I could send the last 1/3.

So, yeah, it’s God’s. And as I sit here trying not to stress over the particulars of the publishing process, I need to remember that if God has been in the whole process so far He’s going to see it through. Just as He will with each and every story I write, which is why I intend on trying to let it all go.

A Prayer

The Lord is my light and my salvation–
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life–
of whom shall I be afraid?
                                                                                   Psalms 27:1

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you for the beautiful weather you’ve blessed us with. And I praise you for the ability to bring my prayers into the Holy of Holies. Lord, there are many today who need your healing touch. There are several people I know who are currently lying in a hospital bed, I lift them up to you and ask that you reveal yourself to them. May you guide the physician’s hands and grant them wisdom as they diagnose and treat the illnesses.

Father, as you know hundreds of writers will be flocking to St. Louis. I pray you calm the nerves and prepare each one for the divine appointments you have for them, whether it’s to offer a hug or receive a request for their manuscripts. I pray your presence be known and that your name will be glorified among each of them.

And God, I pray you grant our land rest. I pray you cause the flood waters to recede and that you would allow rain to fall onto the parched drought stricken lands.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Need I say more?

Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalms 22:3 (KJV)

Have you invited God to dwell in your presence today? It’s quite simple really. Just praise him. And continue to praise him with an earnest, willing heart.

But, Christina,–you say–you don’t understand the morning I’ve had, or the week I’ve had—-

Praise God anyway. Over and over, praise Him for He is good and pure and He gave His life so that you might have eternal life.

—If you are struggling today, and would like for me to pray for you, you may contact at me at christinainspirationals [at] gmail dot com. Just type prayer request in the subject line.

I leave you with Jesus Culture. Long but worth it.

Navah

He is my God, and I will praise him . . .

These words come from Moses’ song, Exodus 15:2, right after the Israelites witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, after witnessing the destruction of all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen (Ex 14:23 NIV).

The King James version:

He is my God and I will prepare him an habitation;

The Jewish Study Bible reads this way.

This is my God and I will enshrine Him;

Some versions may read glorify instead of enshrine.

If we simply read the NIV, the word praise gives the reader a general idea of adoring God. By stepping into the KJV we get a little deeper into this act of worship. I’m a big fan of Strong’s Concordance, so let’s look and see what is meant by the word habitation.

The original Hebrew word is navah, which means to beautify or adorn. According the commentary in the Jewish Study Bible some researchers believe this was meant to beautify object meant o worship God with. Others imply that the word enshrine or glorify actually means to reveal God’s beauty.

Although I”m having a difficult time wrapping my brain around the concept, I like the later. How can I reveal God’s beauty? I’m not sure that it is at all possible.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

Even if I lived a life totally and completely as the one described above, I’m not sure it would even come close to revealing a smidgen of God’s beauty. So, how about you? What do you think praise means in the context of Ex 15:2? How would you go about revealing God’s beauty?

Digging Deeper

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

There comes a time when an infant’s hunger is no longer satisfied with milk. This is when the mother begins to add other basics into the child’s diet until the infant is able to consume solids without help from his parent. The same holds true with new Christians. The problem though is that too often Christians continually depend on others to feed them. They add a bit of gruel to the milk, sometimes even go as far as chewing on a piece of meat, but when it becomes hard to swallow they either choke it down or spit it back out and revert to dependency on others.

Let me add a disclaimer of sorts here. In no way am I saying that you should do away with the covering of leadership. We all should have a pastor, a mentor (or two, or ten) who we can turn to when questions arise. BUT men are fallible, even ambassadors for Christ. Our complete and total trust should be in our infallible God and the Word He has graced us with.

The way I see it, the dependency of infants (new Christians) should move into a more interdependent role (this is where you begin to feed others too, encourage them by your testimony, or share with them what you know about God’s grace and mercy).

I kind of got off track here. I don’t mean to offend anyone and I pray I haven’t. I just know from my own experience and from observations that too often people stay in that infant stage. I myself have been adding gruel for a long while. Too long. Recently I’ve had a longing to dig deeper.

I want to know, as much as I can discover, what was meant by the Patriarchs when they had conversations with God. I want to know how Jacob wrestled with God. I want to know how Abraham knew God would provide a sacrifice. I want to know, maybe know isn’t quite the right word. Perhaps understand is better suited. I want to understand what the word ‘love’ means in all its facets. I want to dig deeper. My intentions are to seek out more direct sources, like the original Hebrew and Greek.

Let me clarify that I do not see anything wrong with modern translations of the Bible. I myself carry the New International Version. However, I believe a fuller sense of God’s Word comes when you understand, not only the original context, but the ancient culture.
I have no delusions that this will be an easy task, but it will be well worth it. I’m also going into this with the understanding that I may make mistakes, but that’s okay too. It might open up a discussion and help me gain a better understanding.

My first selection will come from Exodus 15.

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2

Why here? Because I wanted to dig deeper into praise.