December 30, 2015

Good Days Ahead

It is a chilly morning here in sunny Phoenix. My phone is telling me that it is only 36 degrees outside, and well, I would have to agree. I took the garbage out, and wow! Talk about cold! Yes, it feels very nippy outside, and I am so glad I am tucked away inside my nice and warm home! Selah (Praise God!)

Feeling More Confident

I made good progress on my study notes yesterday. I should say, after much angst and frustration early on. I finally pushed through, had a breakthrough of sorts, and finished one set of book notes for my historical-critical methods class. This small achievement has helped clear a path for me, has made it possible for me to see the road ahead more clearly. I am still overwhelmed, and I am doubting whether what I am doing is good enough. But, I decided, thanks be to the Lord, that all I can do is the work tasked to me. He has to make sense of it all in order for me to pass my exams; the sense-making is all in His mighty hands for sure.

As I started my morning routine, I sat down to blog. I always begin my morning with some prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord. Generally, it is something like "Thank you, Lord for what you are doing this good day. Help me to see you in more and more intimate ways, and to come to know you and rely on you as I lean and I learn from you. You are God, and I give you all praise, all honor, and all glory this good, good day."

As I was praying in my heart this morning, the words of Isaiah 45:2-5 came to me. I am struggling (always) with processing some details in my life right now, with making good progress on my study plans, and with the future (just in general). As I read through this portion of Isaiah 45,

Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: "I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. "I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. "For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me. "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.

I was reminded that God often chooses to use people, anoint them for special tasks and purposes, even sometimes, people who do not know Him. In this case, the story is of Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, whom God called to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. I love these verses because you hear the strong testimony of the Lord speaking through the prophet, and these words provide confidence even to those of us who live thousands of years after this command was given. The Lord says that He has taken the great king by the hand, leading him to subdue nations. He says that He will go before the king, and that He will make the "rough places smooth." I love these words, "I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars" because it says to me that my God is a God of power and of strength. His might is like no other! Praise be to God, He is good!! Furthermore, Isaiah says that God has called Cyrus by name, given him the title of king, and that even though he has not known God (as in he wasn't an Israelite), God still chose him to do this particular work.

God of All Glory

As I think about what I am doing right now, the work that the Lord has laid on my heart, I feel so unwell, so unable to stand. At times, the work seems too heavy, too much, too daunting, yet when I get crushed beneath its weight, I remember that God is my strong tower, my refuge, and my rock. It is in His strength and ability that I move forward. It is with His power and authority that I do all things. He has called me by name, and He has chosen me to complete this work, these tasks, and in that, just like He did with Cyrus the Great, God has taken me by the hand, and He is leading me to the place of His work, the place where He needs me to go and to do the very tasks that I have been appointed and anointed to do. Selah! God is good.

This day, then, is a day that is marked by great hope. I am tired, burnt out really, from all the studying that I have done the past couple days. I have so much work left to do, so much work, and my mind is filled with details and data that makes no real sense to me. Yet, the Lord has purposed me for this work, and He has planned my days and given me His grace to accomplish everything necessary to do this THING, this very THING. I struggle today, just with the overload, the logistics, and the process itself. My God is in control, and I know this, yet I wonder how it will all work out. How will this come to pass, Lord, when I am so frail and so unable to even consider any one thing over another?

I look forward with hope, with expectancy, and with joy for I know that my God is like no other. Isaiah 45:5a says, "Besides Me there is no God." I rejoice in this knowledge. I take comfort in the fact that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God who reigns and rules over my life today. My Lord, Jehovah, is the same -- yesterday, today, and forever -- praise be to God, for He is great and good! Amen!

Today, I trust the Lord to show me, to guide me, and yes, to lead me by the hand this good day. Help me, Lord, to do this work, this high and mighty work. Help me to know what you are saying to me, so that I can have a clear mind, a cool head, and a calm inner spirit. I follow after you, I trust you, and I look to you for your wisdom and your guidance. I need you this day, Lord. I cannot do this work without you. Selah!

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard the Lord speaking into my spirit. Yes, I heard Him speak words into my heart and my mind that made me stop and think that what He wanted was for me to pay attention to Him, to listen carefully, and to remain hopeful and expectant of His delivered promises to me. You see, I am ready to go, to go wherever the Lord has in mind for me. I am ready to do whatever work (as in a job) that the Lord has purposed and planned for me to do. I am not picky (ho, ho, ho -- I hear the Lord laughing right now!) per se, though I do have particular desires and sometimes, I do have wishes and intents that aren't always in my best interest (I think they are, but then the Lord shows me something better). Still, I know that in my heart, and with my mind yielded toward His thoughts, I know that what I really want is what He really wants for me. Yes, I am determined to be in alignment, to be of one accord with the Lord. I have learned over time and through experience, that it is in my best interest to always SIDE WITH THE LORD. Whenever I have chosen my own way, well let's just say...I have fallen flat on my face and I failed BIG TIME! But, when I have chosen to go His way, the path and the way has been smooth. The way has proven successful and good. I know this is truth, and because I have seen this same process play out time and time again, I know that this time, I will experience His goodness IF I GO HIS WAY.

I have been thinking about what the Lord said to me and I wonder how can it be. I mean, how can it be that the Lord would call me to pursue another line of work (job). I am done with all that thinking. I have made my commitment to the Lord to stick to this path, to stay put, to not look to the left or the right. I cannot even contemplate doing anything other than what I am doing now. I am content. I am good. I am comfortable (finally). 

Would the Lord move me into another line of work simply to create better opportunities for me? Would He ask me to do something different NOW after all the torment I went through to finally ascent to His will, His way, and His word? Oh, Lord, say it isn't so...

Yet, in my heart and in my mind, I know that I have said to Him that I would do whatever job He asked me to do. This meant that I would not seek my own way in choosing a line of work. Some Christians believe that the work you do (practically-speaking) is up to you. They believe that the Lord doesn't really care what you do so long as it is honorable and good work. They will cite the Apostles who often did the work they were trained to do to help earn income to cover their needs (fishing, for example, or tent-making in the case of Paul). Yet, other Christians believe as I do that sometimes the Lord places people in positions that are strategic (as He did with Cyrus the Great). Some people believe that God has a plan that is specific, and that as He orders the day, the steps, and the way in which they walk, the work they do (practical) is of vital importance.

I know that the work I do is important. It is not important to me, as in necessary to me, for more than provision. I am not driven by my status. I am, however, driven by good work, the need to produce good work, and the desire to be used in ever greater and expanding capacities. Yes, I desire to do good work, challenging work, and work that will produce the kind of character changes that honor the Lord. I want to be like Him, so that means that whatever work I do, the actual process of working should have some positive outcome. It should help to make me a representative or ambassador that "looks the part," on both the inside and the outside. My character, thus, should be constantly challenged so that I am becoming more progressively Christ-like, and my daily work, the job I do, has the greatest chance to do that simply because it is the thing I spend the most time each day doing (if that makes sense).

Thus, as I think about His words to me, I wonder what He intends to do. How this could possibly be, and why now, why now?

The Lord is Lord of all knowledge, for certain, and that means that if my days are really accounted for by Him, then He knows the timing of events and epochs in my life well. I can trust His judgment, and I can rest in His assurance that whatever He wants me to do, it will be for my good, to produce good results in my life, and to bring to pass His expressed will for me.

Heavenly Father,

I ask for clarification today. I ask that you would clearly and completely help me to understand your word today so that I can be assured that what I am hearing is testimony from you. Remove from me any traces of chatter that are purposed to pull me from the mark, from the path you have for me. Keep me steadfast and hold me accountable to your will, your work, and in your way, Lord, help me to see the truth, the truth and know the truth, so that I can follow after you -- wherever you lead me. I trust you this good day, and I rest in the knowledge that you are God, and that just as Isaiah prophesied so many years ago, that there is no other God besides you. I love you, Lord, and I rest my case. I take your word as word of testimony, and I accept your determination for my life. Have your way in me this good, good day. I pray this all in the matchless and mighty and majestic Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. So be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

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