Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ethical Integrity ~ Psalm 15

Who may worship in Your sanctuary, LORD?
Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Psalm 15:1 NLT
photo by: Becky Clark

Even though God loves us first and chooses us to be a part of His family, there are some expectations of moral behavior that are markers for us. If we claim to belong to the family of God, our lives should demonstrate integrity, should reflect consistent ethical and moral actions. While earth-bound, we cannot attain perfect character, but we should always be striving to become more like Christ. The world's ethical standards, which define equality and justice in legal terms, are not necessarily the standards of God. 

This psalm, often called the "entrance liturgy" by scholars, reflects the qualities the worshiper should possess when coming into the presence of the Lord. Spiritual virtues in Psalm 15 gives us guidelines for living so that we are prepared to enter the presence of God. Not just lessons on moral responsibility, these ancient words also respond to the believer's need to worship God, to the heart's desire to find rest in the presence of the Jehovah. Whether in worship or prayer, God's presence is a holy space.

Over the next few weeks let's explore the standards of Christian integrity God's word provides. The last verse offers the outcome for Christian ethics: He who does these things will never be shaken. Trusting the Lord and embracing the promises of God sustain us as we live in the world. God's assurance stands in direct contrast to world's uncertainty. How will you enter God's Holy Space? ~dho

Consider This:
- Read Psalm 15 (click on verse for link to Bible Gateway) 
- Using a Thesaurus (link here), find words that mean "integrity"

Spiritual virtues in Psalm 15 gives us guidelines for living so that we are prepared to enter the presence of God. Donna Oswalt

God's assurance stands in direct contrast to world's uncertainty. How will you enter God's Holy Space? Donna Oswalt

Got a moment to watch a real miracle(my nephew, Thomas) - click this link:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

God-kind of Containers!

In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblet and silver platters, 
but waste cans and compost buckets - some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use 
to present any and every kind of gift to His guests for their blessing.

What kind of container can God use? Everyone understands a container is designed for the purpose of holding something. Containers come is all sizes from bags to buckets, cisterns to caissons, pods to pots, vats to vessels, each with its own purpose. Today, we think of containers as holders of physical objects, storage containers or organizers, but in ancient literature, people are commonly thought of as vessels; "their bodies as containers" gives us a new way to consider how God has designed us for holiness.

In my word search, I discover two antique words that are types of containers, alembic and jeroboam. Alembic is an obsolete device consisting of two vessels used for distillation that separates the impurities from a chemical, a purifying and refining process. References to Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern kingdom of Israel, can be found in the Old Testament. Living during the time of Solomon and his defiance of God, Jeroboam becomes a king who creates conspiracies, instigates idol worship and engages in constant conflict with the Southern kingdom of Judah. Two types of containers, one designed for purification contrasted with a bodily container engaged in conflict ~ what kind of container do you want to be?

Warren Wiersbe's commentary describes each Christian as being "a vessel in the great house, but some vessels are defiled and cannot be used." This Scripture explains to us that every house uses various containers, but we should strive to become the kind of container that God can use. This requires Christ, the only refiner and purifier of souls. Without Christ, our vessel is unclean and not useful. In this Scripture, the Greek word skeuos signifies a vessel, container, or instrument that is used in a given activity. Paul challenges each Believer to become a valuable, useful and holy container to be used for God's Glory. God lavishes us with His love and calls us to holiness in Him. There are some who say they know God, but their actions tell a different story. Does your container tell a God-story? ~ dho

Consider This?
- Read Romans 5:3-5 (click on verse for link to BibleGateway)
- Describe how God fills "containers" for Christians.

Warren Wiersbe describes each Christian as being "a vessel in the great house, but some vessels are defiled and cannot be used."

"What kind of container can God use?... in ancient literature, people are commonly thought of as vessels; "their bodies as containers" gives us a new way to consider how God has designed us for holiness." 
Donna Oswalt

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rescue Me!

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him...
God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to His eyes. 
Psalm 18:20,24 The Message

God uses the broken, empty, lonely places in life ~ if we allow Him. Too often, we choose to blame others, complain, play the victim, emotionally shut down ~ instead of allowing God to spiritually heal us. In Psalm 18, David recounts his constant attacks from his enemies. David knows God is his only real defense. "I love You, O LORD, my strength," is David's response to being rescued. 

I really like this song and hope you will take a moment to listen to the words. Give God all the pieces of you - the fragile,broken places, the lost opportunities, the wish-I-could-try-again's, the emotional disappointments, the successes that did not bring contentment, the worldly desires that will not bring you joy, the hope that is hiding underneath your pride, the despair of doubt, the hard edges of cynicism, the thunderstorms inside your soul  - give these to God and let His love become your One desire! Let God rescue you! ~ dho

Consider This:
- Read all of Psalm 18
- Answer this: What do you need to be rescued from? Will you let God rewrite the text of your life?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

God's Offering!

Love and faithfulness meet together;

righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.

Righteousness goes before Him
and prepares the way for His steps.

When you read The Message, the word used for faithfulness is truth; love and truth meet. Also, the words righteousness and peace kiss are interchanged for right living and whole living embrace. Jesus personifies Love and TruthIn our redemption, He is both Love and Truth eternally mingled with our hearts and souls. The yield is our right living, the sharing of His Love and Truth with others. Our reward becomes whole living, complete peace ~ His Peace. This is God's Holy Harvest!

God's faithfulness is His promise of Truth, the Truth that defines right living and whole living for each of us. He clothes us with robes of righteousness lined with inner peace that exceeds our understanding. We kneel before the Love Most High overwhelmed with thankfulness for His power and goodness. His gift of righteousness, of right living, surrounds us, protects us, leads us into the next moment. Once secure inside this gift, we discover whole living, His perfect Peace! How complete is His Offering! Great is His Faithfulness! ~dho

Consider This:
- look up the definition of "faithfulness"
- name 3 ways God's faithfulness has effected your life

God's faithfulness is His promise of Truth, the Truth that right living and whole living brings to each of us. Donna Oswalt

Thursday, January 02, 2014

A New Year; A Forever Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! I give thanks to GOD with everything I've got - Whenever good people gather, and in the congregation. GOD's works are so great, worth a lifetime of study - endless enjoyement! Splendor and majesty mark His craft; His generosity never gives out. His miracles are His memorial - The GOD of Grace, this GOD of Love. 
Psalm 111:1-4 The Message

In a current television commercial, a child incorrectly says the familiar phrase New Year's Resolution as New Year's 'Revolution'! While quite humorous, it not so far off the mark. According to the dictionary, revolution can be defined as a sudden, complete or marked change in something. Grace is like a revolution. When Grace is invited, it comes suddenly, completely and markedly changes us for ever! Perhaps what most of us really need is a spiritual revolution this new year! Maybe this is the year to reach new depths of intimacy with Christ. Maybe this is the year to fully commit to living for Jesus, to living like Jesus. 

As this new year begins, completely commit to something that will encourage your spiritual growth, some activity that will deepen your relationship with Christ. Maybe this is the year to join a Bible Study group, volunteer to teach a Sunday School Class, lead a prayer team, go on a mission trip, or become part of a faith project in your own church or community. Often these require one to step outside the familiar, outside a comfort zone. Listen! What is God calling you to do that will makedly change you forever?

Personal spiritual growth can involve setting a daily devotional time, reading the Bible and praying. There are many books and online options. You can choose a Bible verse that will inspire and help direct your spiritual journey for the year. Simply get out your Bible and pray for God to lead you to a specific verse for the year to come. Claim it! Memorize it! Post it! Share it! Study it! Or, maybe you need a word for the year -just one wordthat will help you focus on Christ, discern His will, encourage your heart, and bring you peace. If you are into social media, one recent suggestion I read is to choose several of your Facebook friends and pray for them, chooisng new ones each week or so. Tell them you are praying for them, asking if they have specific needs. LISTEN! PRAY! STUDY! God will help you discover His unique path for you this year. 

Whether you make New Year's resolutions or not, I believe God is always calling us to greater spiritual growth. Any moment, unexpected circumstances cause sudden, complete or marked change. Will you be ready spiritually for such a life-revolution? Will you know how to find comfort in God's Holy Word? Will you be prepared to pray for others in crisis? Will you be able to share God's word with someone in need? Spending time with God - praying, studying, and listening - prepares us to help others, provides us with words to reassure, comfort, and encourage another. Consistently seeking God's Presence grows deep spiritual roots of faith and trust, of love and hope in Christ. This GOD of Grace, this GOD of Love...His Hallelujah lasts forever! ~dho

Consider this:
- READ Psalm 111
- Journal your thoughts