Jezebel

31 01 2011

Jezebel seems a funny topic for The Jesus Resolution. As one of the most evil queens found in the Bible, she hardly seems worthy of thought for someone committed to looking like Jesus. Yet, Jezebel’s example is written into the pages of scripture just as surely as Abraham’s, David’s, or Paul’s. Is there something for us to learn about being God’s people from someone who devoted her life to pushing Him away?

Jezebel’s story is recorded in I Kings 16-22, with the record of her death being found in 2 Kings 9. Jezebel was married to Ahab and together their union plunged Israel into a time of unrelenting idolatry and darkness.

There are three lessons we can learn from Jezebel and her wicked example.

1. She had an unrelenting commitment to her god. Despite living at a time of great miracles and hearing the voice of the mighty prophet Elijah, Jezebel never let go of her commitment to Baal, her idol-god. There is something to be learned from her determination that nothing was going to cause her to walk away from her faith.

2. She instilled deep faith in her idols in her children. Jezebel did a great job of passing on her faith to her children. They all hung onto Baal as tenaciously as she did. She passed on the wrong faith, but the intensity with which she instilled that faith in her children challenges us to do the same with the truth of Jesus.

3. She used her position to call others to bend their knee to Baal. Jezebel was unashamed about using her place on the throne to draw the eyes of others to her god. She devoted her energy, her resources, and her focus to creating hearts that worshipped Baal. So often, we are hesitant and timid about talking about Christ or recognizing the opportunities God gives us to open doors of faith for others. There is a lesson to be learned from Jezebel about boldness.

We should shun the footsteps of Jezebel. We can, however, learn something about tenacity, legacy, and opportunity from her evil choices. Imagine the good she could have done if she had chosen to follow the Lord. God gave us her story so that we can more clearly see ourselves and His heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to learn something from Jezebel. I want to be unrelenting in my commitment to looking like Jesus. I long for my children to deeply embrace His truth. I am going to be unashamed of the gospel of Christ and eager to share its message of hope. It is amazing how God can take someone so evil and use her to teach me more about following Him.





Ten Reasons to Read Your Bible

28 01 2011

The Bible is so much more than a book. It is a guide, holy ground, the voice of God, and a mirror for our souls. Here are ten things that will happen when you commit yourself to spending time in God’s Word.

1. Meet God. The Bible is holy ground. When you enter its pages, you are entering the presence of God. He will meet you there. He will walk with you and show you His heart.

2. Learn about His purpose for your life. God has a purpose for you and the Bible is the place where that purpose is revealed.

3. Get to know Jesus. Jesus is the face of God and our pattern for living. If we want to look like Jesus, we must know what Jesus looks like. The portrait of His life and love are painted on the canvas of Scripture.

4. Gain a new perspective. The words of God bring clarity to our murky world. They are light in the darkness, a lamp revealing the footsteps of Jesus.

5. See the unfolding of God’s plan. God has loved you since before the beginning of time. His plan has always been for you to be with Him. Reading the Bible reveals quite a love story.

6. Understand sin and receive grace. The Bible is first and foremost truth. It will reveal the ugliness of our souls, the sin that corrupts our minds, and the guilt that erodes our hearts. It also opens the door of grace and invites us to walk in freedom in Christ.

7. Feed your soul. Spending time sending our roots into the deep waters of Scripture allows our souls to thrive and flourish and grow.

8. Experience transformation. Reading the Bible gives God access to our hearts, unleashing His power and creating room for Him to change us into the image of Jesus.

9. Hear encouragement from the great crowd of witnesses. Reading the faith stories and struggles of others can help us gain the courage we need to follow Him.

10. Catch a glimpse of tomorrow. The Bible tells us the end of our stories. Confidence and peace flow from knowing that God holds the last page.

My Jesus Resolution today is to dive deeply into God’s Word. I want to know Him better, experience more His presence, take on more of His character, and have eyes which are better able to trace His hand.





Cars

26 01 2011

It was a playing day. A little friend spread his smiles among the members of my family. We played ball, shot baskets, had races, tickled, hugged, and laughed. In the midst of the fun, my son suddenly got a smile on his face and ran upstairs. He came back with a plastic box filled with little cars.

The cars are treasures from years ago. Tucked in the back of his closet, he saw them through the eyes of our little friend. He handed the box to his buddy and waited with anticipation. The reaction was worth the wait.

“WOW!” echoed across the room. Excitement erupted and laughter bubbled over. A whole tub of cars provided enough smiles to fill many hours.

Wonder kept him glued to the box. Each car was worthy of an exclamation of delight. My kids were bored with the cars after a few minutes. They looked at the wheels and shiny colors and shrugged their shoulders. Not our little friend. He examined each one with great care. “Awesome!” “Cool!” and “Look at this!” rang out as he demanded our attention. Where our eyes glazed over at the sight of so many cars, he found joy in the details.

God is more like our friend than me. God never tires of delighting in the personal details of each individual. Our eyes may not notice, but His heart never stops exclaiming over the ones He loves. Too often, I stop looking at faces and just see masses of people. I miss the beauty, the unique ways God is working in each life, and the preciousness of each soul. God never does. He holds each one in His hand and smiles.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at others the way God looks at me. I want to see the value in each soul. I want to find the beauty in each heart. I want to notice the way God is working in each life. I want to see Jesus in the faces of those He loved enough to die for. I want to extend grace to those on the journey. I want to smile and share God’s delight in discovering the uniqueness He has planted in each person.





Present and Future Tense

24 01 2011

We live in an interesting tension. We are called to live in two worlds. We live best today when we walk with our eyes on tomorrow. As Christians, we are given a unique perspective. We know the end of the story. We move through today understanding the permanence that lies just over the horizon. The troubles of the moment are set in the light of glory. The struggles of today are viewed with eyes that see the unseen. The joys of this world are tempered by the eternal delights we long to taste.

In Christ, we carry a confidence about the future that dramatically impacts the present. Heaven is a sure hope. The presence of God is our dwelling place. Victory is certain. In faith, we live in the future tense. God has said it, and therefore its truth is unshakeable. Tears will be dried from our eyes, hurts and heartaches will be made whole, and we will fall before the throne when we see the face of Jesus.

That confidence colors today. Because of our future reality, we can live our best in the present tense. Today takes on new joy. Every moment is embedded with His presence. There is richness in the way we hear His voice. Our hearts can surrender today because of the hope we have in tomorrow. Living in abundance today means understanding and living out the full reality of our tomorrow.

My Jesus Resolution today is to fully live in both the present and future tense. I walk with Christ. That is both my goal for today and His promise for the future. I am going to look for the moment when the future invades the present, shaping it for His glory and pulling my eyes to His face. I am going to let the light of tomorrow color the shadows that cross my path today.





Be A Blessing

21 01 2011

Blessings are interesting things. We say, “Bless you” when someone sneezes. We talk about the blessings God pours out in our lives. There are even moments when we extend a blessing and cover another with God’s love and promises.

God gave Abraham a unique set of blessings. He promised Abraham a son, gave him a land, and then offered him a special insight into the impact of a life devoted to the Lord. “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” – Genesis 12:2

I love this picture. God tells Abraham that he will be a blessing to others. His obedience will open the door for God to bless the world. His surrender will show others the glory of God. His choices will frame the movement of God in not only his life, but in and for the world.

We give blessings, count blessings, and study blessings. Here God calls us to be a blessing. Galatians 3:29 tells us that “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Your life is part of the realization of God’s promise. You are to be a blessing to those around you. Your heart is to be a magnifying glass that helps others see the fingerprints of God. Your obedience should point them to the cross. Your joy helps frame the wonder of the empty tomb.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be a blessing. I have the opportunity to bless everyone I meet today. God can use every word, every action, and every choice to reveal His heart to someone in my path. My entire life is supposed to echo with His presence, showcase His power, and reveal His promises. Today I have an opportunity to make an impact. I don’t have to do anything fancy, spectacular, or special. God tells us that blessing flows from obeying His voice – blessing for us and for the world.





The Special Diet

19 01 2011

Gluten-free. It doesn’t even sound appealing. Yet those words hold the key to good health for someone I love. Before those two words entered her life, my dear one was dealing with crippling pain and debilitating health issues. Worry and fear lined the corners of her days as she struggled to understand why she felt so bad.

A year ago, someone identified gluten (a protein in cereal grains) as the potential bad guy. Eliminating gluten from one’s diet requires an incredible amount of attentiveness and awareness. It was a difficult, heart-wrenching process that necessitated learning to examine labels differently, reading menus with a fresh eye, figuring out how to cook everything in new ways, and practicing a self-determined vigilance. Today, the change is remarkable. Freeing her body of gluten has released her from the pain that was crippling her life.

I have learned much from watching her journey. I need to have as deep an awareness for the impact of sin on my life as she does for gluten’s effect on her body. She watches everything. There is nothing that goes into her body that is not screened. If she has a doubt, she doesn’t eat it. She carries her own food, goes out of her way to do what is healthy, and gently educates the rest of us. “Even just a little gluten in my body lights a fire that is difficult to extinguish,” she recently told me.

That is the way sin works in our souls. Just opening the door a little bit ignites a fire in us that takes hold and is difficult to douse. It gets into our system and cripples us. It builds up in our hearts, takes hold in our minds, and impacts our bodies. Vigilance, awareness, and attentiveness are required. We must learn to look at everything through the lens of holiness. We must move through our days while safe-guarding our hearts. It may require that we learn new habits, walk in different places, and gently encourage those around us to help us in our journey.

My Jesus Resolution today is to embrace a holiness diet. I am going to be careful about what goes into my mind. I am going to be attentive to what gains access to my heart. I am going to change my habits, determined to be on a healthy diet of holiness.





Technology

17 01 2011

A friend lies in a hospital bed fighting for his life. The prognosis is grim and startling. The family finds comfort in the arms of friends who have gathered in the waiting room. Surgery follows a tense day and night of waiting. Prayers rise, hearts hurt, memories bubble to the surface, and love is poured out.

One of the evidences of God’s goodness that has come shining through these difficult days is the power of technology. Within minutes, news of this man’s struggle was being shared across electronic lines. Text messages, email, and Facebook became lifelines. People across the country and around the world started praying. Encouragement flooded into electronic mailboxes. Messages of hope, endurance, love, and expectation of God’s movement were posted. Stories of the impact of this one man’s life were shared, inspiring others to walk more closely with Jesus.

This is technology at its best. In a world in which we often complain about the negative impact technology can have on connection and its ability to influence us in less than wholesome ways, God uses this moment to teach us to see it differently. What if Christians used the power of technology more deliberately? What if I made the intentional move to use every email, Facebook post, and text message to look like Jesus? These amazing forms of communication hold the opportunity for more good than we can imagine if we will only surrender them into His hands.

My Jesus Resolution today is to see the possibilities in the technology I use. Instead of griping on Facebook, I am going to use the moment to glorify God, give Him praise for a blessing, or gently listen and love. I want to catch a glimpse of the power text messages have for encouragement. I am going to write an email today that carries with it a message of hope. The way we use technology speaks loudly about who we are and where our priorities rest. I want mine to look like Jesus.