Friday, January 25, 2008

Phillipians 3:13-14 (NKJV)

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)-“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

“There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world; it’s the beginning of a new life.”-Unattributed1

“We must learn to let go, to give up, to make room for the things we have prayed for and desired.”-Charles Fillmore 2

“One can never change the past, only the hold it has on you.”-Merle Shain 3

“Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can changed.”-Oprah Winfrey 4

“We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old. This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery. I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need to know, and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing. God knows. That is all that matters.”-Frederick Buechner 5

Letting go of stuff is hard to do, isn’t it? We are human and our base instinct is to hold on to things. We will latch on with an intense grip any sensation or experience that comes within our grasp-love, pain, anguish, joy, passion, sorrow….whatever.

I told you that this year, my goal is to become more intimate with God. In order to become more intimate with Him, I have to make room in my heart. In order to make room for Him (cause He’s a BIG God), I need to let go of some other things that I’m holding on to. And sometimes, it’s hard to let go.

We want to hold on to the pain we feel when someone hurts us. We base everything that happens with that person afterwards on that one experience, and seemingly never give God a chance to heal the rift. We want everyone to know that we got hurt, and for them to feel the victimization and pain that we feel.

We can’t make room for intimacy and hold on to the past at the same time. Something has to go-something has to be moved out. We need to forget those things which have passed beyond our horizon; remembering that something new is coming up if we would only look FORWARD.

I had a friend ask me a question in a recent e-mail. She sent some things that she desires to do this New Year; of how she’s trying to take care of herself and those around her. She’s trying to let go.

I’ve been thinking about this all week. As I said before, I get the idea for these in my head, and then I just pray about it and see if it’s from God, or if it’s just my inner pride and self-centeredness. This has been with me, and re-affirmed through others.

I’m gonna try and let go. Yesterday, I was myself; I didn’t hide behind a mask of false bravado. I was me. If I’m who God wants me to be, and I treat others the way He wants me to, I have nothing to fear. God proved that to me yesterday.

You can get by without being a victim. You can get by without holding on to everything. When you try not to let anything slip from your grasp, eventually, your hands get tired. You can’t hold a fist that long; you just can’t.

You can’t be everything to everyone. Notice that I didn’t say you can’t CARE for everyone around you; you can’t just take everyone’s pain and suffering away. You can’t show everyone how to live. You just get in God’s way. Eventually, you’ll tire of trying to do His job. He never gets tired of doing His thing; He has unlimited reserves. You only have that daily bread He gives you; just enough to get by to teach you to rely on Him.

The hardest thing about letting go, is watching someone you’ve been trying to protect be exposed to their own choices. The law of sowing and reaping had never changed while you were running interference; you just kept plowing under things that needed to grow in that person’s life to bring them to intimacy with God.

Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t love. Letting go is a sign that you love someone too much to allow them to stay as they are right now. Letting go means that you allow God to work in them and grow them into what He wants them to be, not what YOU want for them.

The past is gone, let it go. Don’t dwell on the pain and hurt, even if it just happened. The world is full of it, and always will be until Jesus returns and redeems it.

I can’t tell you how to let go. You have to come to that on your own. It’s different for every person. But I will tell you that ignoring your pain, or trying to soldier through it is not going to help. Ignoring pain doesn’t make it go away. It only makes it stronger.

Letting go means you acknowledge that you have pain, and that you can’t do anything about it. For me, it’s telling God that I’m here, and I know what you want me to do. But right now, I’m in the midst of this place, and it’s hard for me. I can’t do it, so please, please, do it through me. Help me to let go and allow You to work in my life.

If you let it go, I can guarantee that God will pick it up. I can also guarantee that if you take it from His hands, He will let you. Let it go; let Him pick it up. It’s amazing to me. I lay this huge burden of mine down at the altar and tell God. I let Him know that I’m tired of trying to carry this and I want to give Him the opportunity to take care of it.

Then He picks it up, and my huge burden looks so small and tiny in His hands. Oh, and one more thing. When He picks it up, you can see He’s still holding it. Don’t get anxious about it, thinking that because you can still see it, it’s still there. It’s in His hands now; He’s letting you know that it’s His now. He’ll keep it from you as long as you let Him.

Don’t go and grab it from His hand, thinking that He’s not doing anything with it.

Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

P.S. Hey, M. J., does this answer your question?

1, 5




Friday, January 18, 2008

Genesis 39:21 (NKJV)

Genesis 39:21(NKJV)-“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”

I have heard it said that character is what you are in the dark. It’s that part of you that comes out when no one is watching. If that’s the case, then I would like to add to it. If character is what you are in the dark, then I believe that sacrifice is what you are doing in the dark. It’s what you’re doing when you can’t get mass accolades or applause for doing it.

The bad thing about writing stuff like this, and trying to speak what God is putting on your heart, is what it does to you. I don’t have all this down yet. My wife and kids will tell you that. I’m still learning how to walk with God and grow in intimacy with Him. It’s very hard to do this, and not mess it up.

I’m out on a limb here, and I’m hoping that someone doesn’t cut me loose from the tree.

I’m trying to keep my focus this year on growing in intimacy with God. I want to know Him so bad that I can taste it. I want to feel His presence in me because it’s all that I want. But everything else keeps getting in the way.

You know what I mean, right? Someone else needs something; you need to go here and do this. If you have a family, you know it all too well. It seems like, when you most want to crawl up in His lap, that the most stuff hits the fan. Sometimes you feel so stifled you can’t take a breath.

You feel like you just keep giving and giving and giving. And you want just once, just once to feel like someone is doing for you.

Wow, doesn’t that sound selfish and self-centered? But, you know what; it’s the truth isn’t it? We all feel like that at one time or another. We want recognition for the suffering that we do. I want everyone to just, you know, take a day and just let me know how much they appreciate…..

Whoa; wait a minute. Read that verse above again, slowly.

Okay, let’s break it down. God was with Joseph. Okay, I got it. Joseph has just been thrown into prison, because the lady of the house where he was working (under Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard) falsely accused him of attempted rape. Joseph’s now in prison, but just like in Potiphar’s house originally, he had God’s favor on him. Potiphar let him run with it, because he saw that his house was blessed because of the blessing God placed on Joseph.

Got it. God….with….Joseph. Check.

Did God throw Joseph a big parade? No. Did God send 10,000 angels, with trumpets a-blowing, rendering thanks to Joe for being in prison and doing what he was doing? Nope. God gave Joseph favor with those he was with, and blessed him in the midst of his life breaking apart.

This is one of the watershed moments in life. The one where I look and see where the road is taking me, and I am trying to steer away from it. I see the path clearly lying out in front of me, and I don’t like where it leads.

I’m here, realizing that God has blessed me, in the midst of everything else, and given me favor. And somehow, I’ve convinced myself that it’s just not enough. I have convinced myself that the favor and blessing of God is not enough in my life. Ouch; that hurts! It’s reality poking me in the eye!

When I start composing these, it comes from a place in my head that just tells me where to start. I usually pay attention to the idea when I’m doing my devotional. That way I can be somewhat sure that I’m listening to God and not my flesh trying to exalt itself. I’ve caught the gist of this now, and it hurts.

I didn’t even have the verse, until God started asking me about sacrifice, and I remembered what I had read about Joe and his brothers (starts in Genesis 37). Sometimes, as another saying goes, you can’t see the forest for the trees. As I said earlier, I just hope that the branch I’m on is safe.

Where are you? Are you like me; wandering around, wanting to be like Christ and become intimate with God, but in your own way and time? I’m kind of happy I’m here, because it reminds me that I’m a work in progress. But it also reminds me of how far I’ve come.

I realize that I do sacrifice myself; I just need to be less aware of the fact that I sacrifice myself. I need to just be aware that God is with me; that He’s never left me nor forsaken me. I need to remember that, in the midst of my prison, God is with me and He has and will continue to bless me.

We need to be gladder that God has given us the abilities we have during times of turmoil and pain. We need to remember that any sacrifice we give on our part pales in comparison with the One who gave up ALL HE IS to come down here with us. He came down over 2000 years ago, to walk with us in our sins and transgressions and show us a way through them.

He came down and was rejected and hung on a tree; but He was blessed by God. The house we’re in is blessed because of His sacrifice. I need to remember that, no matter what I walk through, it’s not about me; it’s about Him shining through me.

And He shines all the brighter when it’s dark outside. Sacrifice….God turning out the lights to show you how much like Christ you really are.

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Bo J.

Click; lights out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)

2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)-“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Endurance-the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina.

Today starts the day the rubber hits the road for us. It’s past Christmas and now almost halfway into the first month of a new year. A lot of us have set a new goal or resolved to change something in ourselves with the New Year. We came out the gate at a fast gallop; making bold strides.

Now is when it gets tough. See, you are just starting to realize that what was a joyful resolution almost 2 weeks ago is something that you may actually have to WORK toward attaining. You may have to expend more energy than you initially considered when you started. Instead of building up gradually, and watching the development come over time, you wanted to make an instant change.

Now, you’re getting tired. You didn’t realize how fast you were sprinting, did you?

We each have a race to run. We each have something we need to endure. It’s said that the race is not to the swift, but to the strong; the one who can keep up a pace over the entire course.

I’ve been married for 18 years now. Each day is a new day. Has this marriage lasted because I’m a great husband? Nope, not even. Has it lasted because my wife Becky is a great wife? Wrong again. We’re both humans, and we both have weaknesses. It’s lasted because we have made a choice to endure.

We are still running. We may not look like we run every day, but we do. I love it when we get the, “You’ve been married how long? To the same person?” question. It’s a sign of the world we live in.

Now, I don’t poke fun at those of you who have married and divorced or aren’t married at all. I give you an example IN MY LIFE of running the race. You have something in your life that you need to keep at the forefront; some race you are running with God to finish.

Make no mistake; it’s not going to be easy. The exciting, fresh days during the start make way later on for the common. You get to the point that the newness may have worn down some, and the business of living life intrudes sharply on your focus.

It’s at that time it is important for us to settle in for the long haul. We need to determine that God will finish what He started in our lives, and nothing will stop Him if we keep faith in Him.

Notice what I said, if we keep faith in Him. We can stop the Creator of all that is, dead in His tracks by our own stubborn refusal to heed Him and allow Him to lead us. He wants you to know that the humdrum is where you are most likely to see His glory. At least, that’s the way it is in my life.

Where are you now? Has the awe and size of the task before you stopped you in your tracks? Are you standing in front of the landscape that is your future, wondering how you are going to get through it all? Does the race course seem too long to finish?

Keep the faith, brothers and sisters, keep the faith. Get up each morning and realize that you have been given another day in this adventure called life. I can’t in good conscience tell you that everything will change and your life will be brand new. But I can tell you that if you ask God to show you His glory, He will do it.

But you have to prepare yourself to see it. Remember, sin cannot live in the presence of God. He is Righteousness, Truth, and Holiness. He is the Creator of the heavens and earth. He is the Almighty, Everlasting, and Wonderful God of the Universe.

And He loves you and me tremendously.

This is a path to greatness that not everyone walks on; they can’t because it’s too hard. It’s a narrow path that does not allow for you to veer off on your own. It’s designed that way on purpose. It keeps you close to Him and keeps you focused.

It’s not an easy road to walk; but God wouldn’t be God if He didn’t call us to walk this path. You know the saying, “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” Everybody is NOT doing it. And some who started the path turned back because they let the size of the task before them scare them away.

They lost sight of the size of their God, and concentrated on the size of their surroundings. I’ve done it; and recently too! We all have at some point. But it’s not something you have to dwell in. You don’t have to stay in it forever.

The race has started; the course is set. God’s not expecting you to sprint to the finish. He will set the pace if you let Him. You may think it’s too slow at first, but trust Him, He knows what He’s doing. He’s done this A LOT LONGER than you and I have.

Before you know it, you may look back just long enough to wonder how you got this far. And then, you’ll look around and realize that you never ran a race at this pace before. And you’ll feel a smile start to creep up on your face, as you realize that the obstacles you faced did nothing but increase your stamina.

Careful, you may actually begin to like running. Who knows what can happen then?

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Exodus 33:13 (NKJV)

Exodus 33:13 (NKJV)-“’Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.’”

Lord, I want to get to know You this year. I want to get to know You, so that I can get closer to You. I want to know Your grace, so that I can know more of Your grace. I want to get more intimate with You, so that with the intimacy, I can get more intimate with You.

See, I have been kinda going about this thing all wrong. I’ve been studying my Bible, and reading so I can learn for myself. But since I started reading all this stuff, I have learned that I want to get closer to God. And the closer I get to God, the closer I want to get to Him.

I’m learning that my former reasons for getting to know Him were my own reasons. I’m learning that I wanted to get to know His Word, so that when someone asked me about it, I could answer their question. While that is a noble pursuit, it’s not the RIGHT pursuit.

I want to know Him, specifically so that in the knowing, I will know Him better.

The passage above was spoken by Moses, as He met with God after the Israelite children had been taken out of Egypt. They had escaped at the Red Sea. They had seen the LORD deal with Pharaoh’s armies. And then, they promptly built a golden calf and proclaimed it as their god.

Moses wanted God to promise Him that He would not leave him; that He would show Moses the way He wanted Him to go. Moses wanted God to lead him, and show him His grace. Moses wanted God to remember that getting these people out of Egypt meant nothing if He wasn’t going to lead them and guide them.

I’ve been released from my bondage in Egypt. I went to church for most of my life, but I was in bondage. In January of 1997, I was released from my bondage. God showed me His grace, so that I could know Him and find grace in His sight.

And ever since then, at different times, I have managed to find a way to put myself back in bondage, much like the Israelite children. We love to point fingers at the Old Testament people, and say, “If I had what they had, I would never have crossed God like that!”

We have God in a closer, more intimate way. We have a free pass to the inner sanctum, the place of holiness, the dwelling place of God. We can boldly come to the throne of grace and declare our needs to God and pray to Him. Do you remember that Old Testament priests had to have ropes tied to them and bells on the hems of their garments? Do you remember why?

They did it because they had specific ways and ceremonial rites to complete to enter into the holiness of God; to enter into His presence. And if they messed up the teeniest bit, their error killed them in the presence of God’s holiness and righteousness.

And we take for granted, each and every day, the privilege we have of meeting God. Moses was asking for something, in the above passage, that we have been given because of the sacrifice of the Lamb without spot or blemish. We have it, without reservation; we just have to reach out and take it.

We have a God who wants us to get to know Him, so we can know Him better. He wants us to become more intimate with Him, so we can want more intimacy with Him. He wants us to get closer to Him, so we will want to get even closer to Him.

He doesn’t want us to learn about Him so that we can beat others over the head with our knowledge. He wants us to know Him, so that His grace will be apparent to those who DON’T know Him. He wants us to get know Him, so that we can point those who DON’T know Him in the right direction. He wants us to get to know Him, so that in the knowing, we realize we want to know Him even more.

He wants us to get so close to Him, that we don’t realize until it’s already happened that nothing else mattered except to get close to Him, and to help others get close to Him.

I told you last year that I wanted to get to know God better. I did, but not for the right reasons. I wanted to get to know God better, so that I could be a better example of Him in the world. I shouldn’t say that’s not the right reason; I should say it’s not the reasoning I should have used.

This year, I want to get to know God better, so that I will know Him more intimately and fully than I have ever known Him in my life. And in the knowing, I will change and become more like Christ, and align my life more with what God wants me to be. I want to become more intimate with God, so that I will want to become even more intimate with God; everything else will work itself out through that intimacy.

How do I know, you may ask?

If you look a little further past that passage I gave you above, you will see that Moses met with God on Mount Sinai. When he came down, he was carrying the two new Tablets of Testimony with him. Moses had been so intimate with God that his face glowed. He had a veil to cover his face when he talked to the people, because of how much his face glowed.

Close contact and intimacy with God had done that. He didn’t have to tell the people how close he had been to God; it was readily apparent. If we can just get more intimate with God, everyone else will just KNOW. You won’t have to advertise it, or shout it to the heavens. You will shine with the light of God through the intimacy.

I’ve got a veil ready. Let’s get close to God this year.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.