Saturday, August 25, 2012

LOL: Can You Relate?

Memory/Meditation verse: "...for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness... ~ Phil 1:7-8 (ESV)

Living Out Loud...what does that really mean? Can one shout out the name of Jesus without using their voice to live out loud? Can one be in the world, among the sinners, and still live out loud? It made me think of Paul in his letter to the Philippians (chapter one). Paul had a passion for his fellow believers. He was driven to nurture their spiritual growth, no matter where he was because of what he had experienced in his own life.

Can you relate?

I can. Paul was driven for the eternal. The passion resulted from a messed up life against God that tasted the sweet flavor of grace. When you really experience it, experience it from a brokenness of self, it changes you to your core. A passion and drive boils up from your innermost being and takes hold of you.

Can you relate?

I can. It radically changed Paul and it should radically change us too. Instead of becoming one of the greats among his own people Paul was drawn to the Gentiles, the people of the world, people he knew needed Christ just as much as God's chosen people.  His passion to bring "them" to God caused his own to target their attacks on him. They wanted to prison him into his past and not accept him for his transformation or where that transformation came from.

Can you relate?

I can. Did that stop Paul? No, if anything it fueled his passion even more and drove him to love God more and to love others more for Him.

Can you relate?

I can...but I fall short here....

Our Damascus road experience wraps us in a blanket of God's grace. We embrace it and cling to it. It becomes our life line and it should. But some people struggle to live beyond the experience, to live it out loud and to share His grace with others who so desperately need it. 

But the Master can slowly loosen the grip owe often have on the experience. He will gently pry each finger back to show us that His grace will not be taken away.We find we can hold His hand and live His grace out loud. It is within this realization that we can allow that passion of living in His grace to grow and drive us to share it with others....the gentiles in Paul's case, the broken Christians in mine.

6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~ Philippians 1

Three words stand out to me in Paul's letter here: Imprisonment, Defense, Confirmation.

Paul was imprisoned in a jail but he had also been imprisoned by his past. One's past can really cramp one's future if it is allowed that control. Paul demonstrated a life lived out loud by not allowing his past to control who he was-grace gave him permission to do this and it gives us permission to do the same. This grace has the power to control our living out loud.

Paul found himself defending the teachings of Christ. He lived God's truth among the world of sinners. He didn't shun the world, or  start a commune to protect himself from the world. Like Christ, he went out into the world with an eternal purpose, a drive to bring others to Christ.

Paul was able to confirm God's grace by his living. Like Christ, he was persecuted, he was shun, he was mistreated, talked about unfavorably, and people wanted to label Him from His past...the carpenter, not The Christ. Jesus confirmed God's grace by living out loud and giving out loud where He was and among the sinners.

Can you relate?
My Holy and Sovereign Lord, Abba Father, you are my reason for living out loud. My brokenness, my Damascus road experience lead me to your beautiful  grace and I am so grateful. My heart yearns for others to experience You as I have. You have place this passion and drive to live out loud deep within me and I ask you to lead me in it. I pray today that I boldly live imprisoned by your word, not by my past. I pray I boldly live in defense of Your word and not of who I have become. It is not about is about You. I also pray I live as a confirmation of who You are and what You can do in a broken messed up life. I love you but I want to love you more.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

LOL: John 14

Memory/Meditation verse:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." ~ John 14:6 (HCSB)

 Living Out Loud....Giving Out Loud...

Multiple times this past month my mind has taken me to imagine eternity. Yesterday I drove an hour through the country to get to my destination. I love those times...they can be some of my best "God times". I love the out doors. Its the canvas displaying God's love for us and I feel most content admiring it. On this particular drive there were storm clouds in the distance and I almost pulled over to take a picture because I had never seen such a unique formation of clouds.

God's creation just blows me away. I am one of those people who is most comfortable when I am in the country. Currently we live in town to be close to the girls school and activities. Though I love this old house we have renovated, these neighbors are just too close. The symphony of nature is often marred with the sounds of traffic. The towns lights drown out the sparkle of the night skies and the sun rises and sets on rooftops...not picture perfect in my book.

As I said, my contentment is most often found within God's creation. As beautiful as this earth is, heaven can only be more breath-taking.Can you just imagine? As I was driving yesterday my thoughts were drawn to that verse I had memorized as a child...

"In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also." ~ John 14:2 (HCSB)

God prepared a place for us when He created the heavens and the earth...He has "wow'd" us with rolling hillsides, snow topped mountains, bubbling streams, and flowers in colors of every shade...I can only try to imagine how much more beautiful heaven will be. So in that drive, my thoughts again turned to that "room" and again God and I had a conversation about it. Have you ever given much thought to that "room" he is preparing for you? I know as a kid it was impressed upon my young heart that my life lived would determine how big my dwelling place would be in heaven.

Living Out Loud is all about John 14 in which we find this verse. Read it here. And ironically, this is where my reading took me last night when I had a chance to sneak in some quiet time.

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going." ~ John 14: 1-4 (HCSB)

Needless to say, last night my heart was trouble over some unwanted "noise" in my home.  

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him." ~ John 14:6-7 (HCSB)

I took the evening "noise" to God. I cannot change it without Him. In the chaos is when we need His truth the most. After reading the next chapter in my current Bible study (which so happened to be on this particular "I am" truth in John 14), I turned my chair to watch a weather storm move in. It mirrored the unwanted "noise" that swept in to ruined my evening. Even with its threat, I know the truth of  "I Am", my God, which is greater than any storm of life and He can overcome it.

“I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." ~ John 14:12-14 (HCSB)

Instead of getting more angry, or wallowing in self pity over the injustice of what my heart felt, I praised God for the eventual outcome and asked for the mess and ugliness of it to somehow glorify Him. I asked for his intercession but I also asked for His outcome. He knows what my hearts desires, but my hearts desire is not necessarily His desire so I asked Him to aline my desire with His. In His name, I surrendered the storm and praised Him for the showers that would grow and strengthen my weakness.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. ~John 14:15-18 (HCSB)

Living Out Loud...keeping God's truths in the midst of a storm. Knowing God well enough to sense His Spirit and to hear His voice...even in the storms of life. There are branches and leaves cluttering my back patio now. I am required to pick up and dispose of them so the chaos of that patio is returned to its formal glory. So too does my life call me to this same pick up and dispose of the clutter that is preventing God's glory from being displayed. To remove the "noise" and obstructions of God's view in my life. To prepare me for eternity.

"The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him...If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.  I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit —the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you...” ~ John 14:21, 23-26 (HCSB)

I love Him, I want to love Him more. I want my love for Him to be evident in my everyday living...Living Out Loud for Him. Turning to Scripture for healing and strength. Cleaning out the ugliness of my sinful nature to allow the Spirit room to work. Being teachable, especially during the storms.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful." ~ John 14:23-26, 27 (HCSB)

When I get eternity...I imagine that special place for me...that "room" He is preparing just might not have four walls as my home here does. That "room" He is preparing might instead be an outdoor room with walls layered by the most fragrant and colorful flowers my senses have ever experienced. Tile or wood would not cover the ground but instead my feet would walk upon a velvety field of grass. A full praise symphony of new sounds would filter though my ears unlike the locust song I heard last night. And this room would be wrapped with a sky more magnificent than the one my eyes looks to each day and each night. 

As I spoke my heart to God yesterday, I heard His still small voice ..."you can't even imagine" and I am betting He chuckled a little at our conversation. I felt Him wrap me tighter in His peace as the storm hit. I am driven even more to prepare myself for this special place He is creating just for me...driven even more to Live Out Loud for I journey closer to Him.

Praising Him in the Storms~Pamela