Thursday, July 12, 2018

Nothing Is Too Marvelous - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:13-14

Scripture’s narrative describes Abraham welcoming three heavenly visitors, preparing a generous meal, and learning that he and Sarah will have a son. During the meal, Sarah, inside the tent, hears the prophecy. As both she and Abraham are very old and past childbearing years, Sarah laughs “to herself” at the idea of such. The LORD replies, “Is there anything to hard for the LORD?. A more correct translation would be, “is there anything too marvelous or extraordinary for the Lord?

Sarah’s disbelief, often like ours, seems to doubt the extravagance of God’s promises. The Gospel Transformation Bible Notes says it this way: “God’s purposes of grace are not held captive by human sin or adverse circumstances. He is the God who works out his purposes through weak and ordinary human beings such as Abraham and Sarah. It is God’s grace, not human merit, that determines the course, and the blessing, of our lives.”

At 100 years and 90 years old respectively, we know that Abraham and Sarah do welcome a son they name Isaac, which means ‘laughter’ - just as the LORD had promised. (Genesis 21:6-7)  Sarah declares her joy in this unimaginable gift, “God has made laughter for me.” This is the beginning of the lineage of Jesus, God’s covenant with Abraham to make his descendants into a great nation, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Generation after generation, God weaves His chosen people who will birth grace. Nothing is too hard for God who can do all things. - dho

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Freedom of 'We the People' - God Who Can Do All Things Summer Series

Today is the 4th of July, the day America celebrates independence, remembers the signing of the  Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, when "the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America". For citizens of America, this was the beginning, the foundation of freedom. We don't celebrate the the Constitution, signed September 17, 1787, the written footprint of freedom and liberty that empowered and outlined the responsibilities of "We the people". Those beginnings and struggles to define freedom have been followed by decades of great efforts and epic failures to live out this kind of freedom. America is not about a particular place or group of people, rather America is "a radical and unprecedented idea, based upon liberty and freedom for all". (Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It)

Recently, I read Eric Metaxas’ book If You Can Keep It, The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty. The founders of America's document of freedom, The Constitution, believed that "the idea of total religious freedom was paramount." Metaxas writes about freedom and liberty, government and self-government, about virtue and love of country all being part of what formed America's ideals of freedom and what "we the people" must value. He speaks to the fragility of freedom and the uniqueness of America's government. Metaxas describes the heart of America as "the idea of living for others - of showing them a new way of living."

America, with its unique government and struggles to live its principles of liberty, continues to learn and evolve. It is not perfect, nor are its citizens; however, all citizens of America are included in the "we", each shares the burdens and enjoys the goodness. I treasure the freedom to worship as I choose, the freedom of speech to share my thoughts, the freedom to dream and opportunity to achieve dreams, the freedom to respectfully disagree with some and still remain part of this country. Especially on a day that celebrates independence, with both humiltiy and sadness, I do remember that this freedom has not come without its many wounds, some physical others pyschological, losses that linger, pain that divides. 

I believe in a God who offers a "radical and unprecedented idea" of spiritual freedom. I believe in a God who loves and chooses to love everyone. I trust in a God who desires a relationship with a sinner like me. I believe in a God who can do all things!  -dho  

** written Wednesday this week for the 4th of July! Next week, returning to Thursday!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

God Terminates Tower of Babel - Part 2 - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:8-9 

“From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth.” [Genesis 9:18-19] Historically, the post-flood roots of civilization come though Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Scholars trace the beginnings of Babel to the days of Nimrod, grandson of Ham. Stopping construction of the Tower of Babel occurs during the Babylonian Empire’s infancy about 100 years after The Flood and around 300 years before the calling of Abraham. The people’s rebellion against God and religious confusion causes God to intervene as God’s kingdom will never be decided by man. The Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

With millenniums between, we find contrasts and correlations between the Tower of Babel and Pentecost. While Babel is man’s attempt to reach heaven, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes down from Heaven to be God within us. In contrast, the confusion of languages at Babel fractures relationships, but on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem there are “devout pilgrims from all over the world” who respond, “They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!” God’s Spirit brings unity to the multitude of languages and creates community.  

God’s divine redemptive plan will always prevail. Through Grace, God brings people from all over the earth together, no longer divided but spiritually unified despite differences. From “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” disciples take the Good News throughout the whole earth. Glory be to God who can do all things! -dho

Thursday, June 21, 2018

God Terminiates Tower of Babel - Part 1 - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words... “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name.” ...The LORD came down to see the city and the tower... The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have the same language. And this is what they began to do”... Therefore, its name was called Babel, because the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. 
Genesis 11:1-9

Photographer: Vicki De La Garza

After the flood, the generations of people from Noah’s lineage begin to populate the earth and, in time, begin to seek their own destiny and glory. With increasing arrogance and autonomy, the people celebrate their own greatness and create a sense of “corporate pride”. Substituting their relationship with God and uniting their human efforts, the people attempt to reach God through their own abilities. God intervenes to stop humanity’s willfulness, His power always transcending mankind’s limitations.

The people are trying to build a migdal, a fortified city with a tower reaching heaven. Increasing in unity with each other, they begin to see less of a need for a Creator. Rebellion repeats itself again. First the garden, then the flood, and now the tower, familiar patterns of rebellion and evil and arrogance emerge once again. God intervenes to save the people from themselves. He creates multiple languages, disrupts communication, forces a scattering of the peoples.
God created us for interdependence, and we can find strength in numbers. Yet God will jealously guard His position as our source of strength lest we substitute other relationships for our dependence on Him. - Blackaby
God desires a relationship with us, but this comes through grace, not human effort. We struggle to find the balance between independence and dependence, between courage and complacency, between strength and humility. What we can trust is that God is both Creator and Comforter, both Sovereign and Savior. He calls us to work independently and together but always for His glory. Over and over God rescues us from our selfish ambitions and renews us with His endless possibilities. After all, God can do all things! -dho

Thursday, June 14, 2018

“Who is like You, God?” - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

“God, Your justice stretches to the heavens,
You who have done mighty things!
Who is like You, O God?
You have made me see hard times: I’ve experienced many miserable days,
but You will restore me again.
You will raise me up
from the deep pit.
You will greatly increase my status
and be my comfort once again.
I will praise You with music played on a harp
because You have been faithful, O my God.
I will sing praises to You with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
I will shout for joy
as I sing Your praises;
my soul will celebrate because You have rescued me. 
Psalm 71:19-23 The Voice

In reading Psalm 71, the Psalmist reflects on God’s faithfulness. The phrase “wondrous deeds” is the Hebrew word ‘pala’ meaning “extraordinary, beyond the normal capacity of humans, a word reserved for God alone.” (NKJV Study Bible) These extraordinary deeds do not exempt suffering or disappointment, do not guarantee success or reward; however, they do point to a God who can do all things. 
The righteous never lose hope, no matter how long God’s answer takes, no matter how difficult the problem. Because they know God intimately, they continue to hope, praising Him continually as they wait on Him. (Blackaby Study Bible, NKJV: Personal Encounters with God Through His Word) 
Take a moment to listen to Natalie Grant’s More Than Anything! The words echo the soul’s deepest need: Help me want the Healer more than the healing; Help me want the Savior more than the saving; Help me want the Giver more than the giving; Help me want you, Jesus, more than anything.

LISTEN:“More Than Anything” by Natalie Grant

Romans 5:2-5 reminds us of God’s “radical grace”! THIS is the extraordinary faithfulness of a God who can do all things. - dho

Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. Romans 5:2-5 The Voice

You can read about the personal story “behind the song” - click here!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Introduction - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Job answered God“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.” Job 42:1 MSG 
A theme throughout Scripture I’ve been thinking about for sometime - All things are possible with God - sounds full of endless possibilities, but so is God. God’s promises never fail; His character never changes. When life gets complicated or confusing, our frailty begins to wonder about God’s strength and certainty, we question the depth of His love, we lose hope. In the mire of difficult times, we miss the big picture, the Big God, the God who can do all things.
Job suffers enormous loss, endures illnesses, and questions the purpose of suffering, but he listens to God describe His power (Job 38-41) and comes face to face with the limitless provision of God. When Job answers I know You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted (Job 42), he is certain that God has the power to make everything whole, is able to have victory over every circumstance, that any intention of God, any plan or purpose of His will be accomplished. Our trusting God rests in acceptance of not knowing how God’s plan will unfold. Like Job, we must come to recognize the mystery and majesty of God who can do all things.
Jesus calls each of us to come to the table, the table of hope and love, of mercy and redemption, of freedom and community. All are welcome. This summer as we study the immeasruable possibilities of God, Scripture will help us discover or refresh the truth of God’s power and our need for trusting a mighty God who can do all things. - dho

This summer we will be looking at Scriptures thoughout the Bible that speak to the power of God who can do all things! We began May 24th, and you can read all the posts this summer at Breathing Room For My Soul. Enjoy your summer, and I would like to hear your thoughts about these posts! ~ Donna Oswalt\\

Thursday, May 31, 2018

God is Sovereign - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that You can do all things,
and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted." Job 42:1-6 NASB

IF you can find time, read Job chapters 38-41 to fully grasp the magnitude of Almighty God. In these verses, God confronts Job’s arrogance with a series of questions that proclaim the complete power of God Almighty. God asks Job who and where andwhen did you create the world and all its glory? Have you and do you know and can you explain how all things work? These Scriptures expose the greatness of an all-powerful Creator. With great humility, Job responds that God’s power exceeds everything.

The story of Job invites us to witness human suffering up close. From great abundance to complete despair, Job struggles to understand his tragedies, but he misses the most important point. God is Sovereign! God asks us the same questions that He asks Job, and in reply, we must confess that God’s ways are higher, beyond our finite minds. Like Job, we should respond with awe and gratitude, “I've been talking about things far too wonderful for me!” 

Lord, I constantly talk about things I do not understand, worry about situations I cannot control, try to plan my future without even grasping my present life. Expose my pride and weariness, my doubt and anxiety, my self-righteousness. Great is Your faithfulness. –dho

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Come To The Table - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG 

Just as summer is beginning, let’s take a moment to breathe... in AND out! The hurry of  school year is ending, adventures with less routine are beginning. Summer gives us the permission we sometimes need to slow down, take a longer lunch, listen to the birds, watch a sunset. In these times we can see ourselves more clearly, identify the stressors we can change, recognize our need for God. 

I’m sharing this song, a newer song from Sidewalk Prophets that is a new favorite of mine. Take a few minutes to listen to Jesus calling... calling each of us to His Table, calling each of us to rest, calling each of us to learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I hope you hear Jesus calling... come to the table! -dho

      Come To The Table  (click this link to hear!)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Holy Wind

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them.” Acts 2:1-4 NCV

Jewish history recounts that the curtains in the Temple that separate the Most Holy Place would sometimes move and describes this phenomenon as Rauch HaKodesh, a Hebrew phrase meaning “Breath of the Holies”. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people understand the Holy Spirit to be God’s influence over humanity and the universe. In Psalm 51:11 David pleads with God, “Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” God always desires to dwell in the presence of His people.

After Jesus ascends back to heaven, as promised, the Holy Spirit descends to His followers. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God, and the Holy Spirit becomes God’s Presence with us. This Sunday May 20, 2018, is Pentecost Sunday, the day of celebration of the Holy Spirit coming to be with those who follow Jesus.  

Holy Spirit, come alongside of me and breathe holy life into my thoughts, my purpose, my service. In You I know the presence of the Lord. Holy Wind, embrace me, encourage me, empower me. Count me alive in Christ. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. - dho 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Living Stones

“Come to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by the people, but He is precious to God who chose Him. And now God is building you, as living stones, into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please Him because of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5 NLT

Peter’s words declare Christ as the foundation of the church, and those who follow Christ become the living stones that God uses to build His church. This reference does not suggest literal buildings, rather the building of the church as a community of believers. When the curtain in the Temple is torn in two, every believer gains direct access to God. Rejected but resurrected, Jesus creates a New Way back to God. Christ, the Great High Priest, makes the last and ultimate blood sacrifice for sin. Through Grace we can enter into the Presence of God as His holy priests

God always desires to have a dwelling place with His people, first in the tabernacle, later in the temple, then on earth in Christ, and now within each believer through the Holy Spirit. God’s presence resides in the community of believers, the body of Christ, the church. Holy God, infinite in wisdom, I try to imagine Your mystery but cannot understand such love, cannot comprehend such power, cannot explain such mercy. My sacrifice of praise is endless. Count me alive in Christ. Let this living stone glorify You! – dho 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Spiritual Temple

 “You must make your heart a spiritual temple,
a temple where you can go to adore Him incessantly.”
Brother Lawrence

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

To effectively spread the Gospel, understanding the cultural language is of great importance. Paul brings the message of Christ to Athens, Greece, a great center of culture and philosophy. Greek intellectuals frequently challenge each other. In an attempt to introduce the Gospel message, Paul reaches into their world of curiosity and idols, uses common language, and draws them into his story. Starting in the marketplace, the Greeks take Paul to their official court, and there he preaches the Good News. While there are some who mock Paul, some walk away unsure, but others believe. The Holy Spirit breathes new life into those whose faith confesses Jesus as Redeemer.

As Christians, we find great comfort in knowing that God chooses us, forgives us, and calls us through Christ. God marks us as His own with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians says, “The Spirit is God’s guarantee the He will give us everything He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people.”Whether we encounter opposing philosophies or cultural apostasy, the Promises of God always remain. El Shaddai, You are the Great I AM, the All Sufficient One who chooses me! Through Your Promises, I discover my identity in Christ. Your Spirit breathes new life into me, creating a spiritual temple within me. Count me alive in Christ. Praises keep rising to You! – dho