Monday, February 11, 2013

Quiet Reflections: Holy Cow

Quiet Reflections from a mothers heart to her daughters....

Dear we write these letters to you I wonder about the time when you will actually read them? Where will you be in life? Still in school? College? Married with children? Most importantly, I wonder where you will be spiritually with God in your life? I thin that is why I am so compelled to write these spiritual letters, to share my love for God and what He has done in my life.

As you know, during this time of my life, we attended Saturday night church services and Joe and I would get up Sunday mornings and have our first cup of coffee with several of our favorite TV pastors. This morning we heard a sermon that I knew I had to share with you. You will find the actual sermon at the end of this letter.

I love the Old Testament. Some pieces of scripture in the OT is hard to read and understand-the killing, the wars, the practices. But this time has such rich spiritual implications for out now and that is how Jentezen Franklin married the two in this sermon Holy Cow.

Read this passage Jentezen Franklin used from Numbers 19. God instructed Moses and Aaron in the practice required to be cleansed or purified from sin. Pretty crazy, hu? Can you imagine if you had to go through this process for every wrong that you did in a day or a week? I want you to concentrate on  these verses...

2 “Here is another legal requirement commanded by the Lord: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer, a perfect animal that has no defects and has never been yoked to a plow. 3 Give it to Eleazar the priest, and it will be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4 Eleazar will take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the Tabernacle.5 As Eleazar watches, the heifer must be burned—its hide, meat, blood, and dung. 6 Eleazar the priest must then take a stick of cedar, a hyssop branch, and some scarlet yarn and throw them into the fire where the heifer is burning.

Here is what you need to know about a red cow-a red heifer- related to this time. It was rare, uncommon, to find one perfectly red without any other colors or blemishes. Jewish custom was to present to God perfection and God command to His people in this OT passage that He wanted a perfect sacrifice represented in this red heifer.

Here is the first thing I want you to take from this from His sermon:

Something becomes common when it loses its values. In other words, something is more powerful and more valuable when it is rare, when it does not fit in.

When I think of you in your current life what is of more value than anything else? It's not your friends, it the the car that we get you when you turn 16, it's not the clothes you wear of the house you live in. It's your love. It's your character.

The more you value who you give your heart to, the more valuable it become to the one who commit to to eventually. Save your heart and your love for the perfect person that God has waiting for you.

The more you stand up for what you believe in and know is right in God's sight, the more you will be. It may mean you don't hang out with the "popular group". It may mean you don't fit in with the main crowd. That's okay. In the end you will have less regrets and more satisfaction with your life, even though it does not fill like it at the moment.

Determine to have your life, your heart, represent a red heifer.

Here is the second thing I want you to take from this passage from Jentezen Franklin. I have learned this the hard way and it has been a struggle for me to work though it...

Your history can destroy your destiny if you don't learn how to get cleansed from it.

Look again at verse two and verse twenty...

Here is another legal requirement commanded by the Lord: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer, a perfect animal that has no defects and has never been yoked to a plow....But those who become defiled and do not purify themselves will be cut off from the community, for they have defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. Since the water of purification has not been sprinkled on them, they remain defiled

In between verse 2 & 20 the priest and people were instructed how to be cleaned from impurities or in touching something dead. Dead things can bind us, way us down. A yoke of a plow weighs a cow down and confines it and keeps it from the rest of the community or the herd. Sin is like that. Our past is like that. Our hurts and pain are like that. All too often as we grow older he keep touching the dead. We keep living in the past. We do not let go of those things that caused us so much hurt, so much pain. We can't get over something we have done. We can't let go of something we no longer have. It cuts us off from others. It may even cut us out of society. It often cuts us off of keeps us from Him.

So how do we learn to be cleansed from it? This is were the OT and today unite. Look at Hebrews 9:14 from the New Testament (NT):

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Do you see the connection? Even from that OT time  recorded in Numbers, people continue to fail. People continue to sin. People continued to make mistakes, to live in pain and regret. God decided to make a final sacrifice to cover all of our sins-a perfect Sacrifice, without blemish...Jesus.

We don't have to take the ashes of a burnt animal, mix them with water and bathe in them to purify yourself from your sins, from our past, from our pain. Christ did it for us. He did it for all of us, not just for His chosen people the Jews...all of us.

So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. ~ Hebrews 13:12
We can't miss this important point. If you go back to our passage in Numbers, The priest had to go outside the walls of the city to sacrifice the red heifer. So also was Christ sacrificed outside of the city walls. The significant here is that the sacrifice was not just for those within God chosen people. The intent was that Christ was not just for those within the walls of religion or the walls of the church. If Christ had died inside the city, it would have been for the people of the city. Christ dies outside of the city for all. God did not want His son's sacrifice to be boxed in to religion or to a particular group of people.
And Christ became more powerful in his death than in His life. He sent us the power of the Holy Spirit, our Counselor to walk life with us, to help us to know Him better, to know conviction, to know freedom and healing from our past, our pain, our regrets.
Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. ~ John 16:7 (NLT)
Girls, we are called, commanded to walk away from our past, our history in the power of God's love, and God's forgiveness, and God's grace. A perfect example of how to do this is seen with King David in the OT. When he made another man's mans wife pregnant, had the husband killed and married the women, the prophet told David the child would die because of his sin. David mourned and fasted for the life of that child. He messed up and he admitted it to God but the child still died. He still had to face the consequence of the sin. But instead of living in that regret, instead of living in that past, look what the 2 Samuel 12 passage said he did...
13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. 14 Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the Lord[a] by doing this, your child will die.”
15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.
18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”
19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.
What did he do? He changed immediately and He worshiped God. He moved on. And that is what we need to do also. Move on with God. Leave the yoke of slavery to the past and move on with God. He didn't forget the loss of his son but went in and comforted his wife and they had another son-Solomon, the wisest of all Kings ever born.
I struggled with this-moving on. I even struggle with it today at times. But when I feel a need to struggle with my past, this is the verse I turn to-Philippians 3:12-14:
 don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Press on girls. Find your destiny. Don't let anything in your past hold you back. Don't live as the common world lives but live as a rare and valuable daughter of Christ.
I love you.
Holy Cow

Monday, February 4, 2013

Quiet Reflections: Being Misled

Quiet Reflections from a mothers heart to her daughters....

Dear Daughter,

Today I want to talk to you about what it means to be "misled". I came across this verse and it stirred my heart to think about my own life and the times I have been "mis-led". 

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. Gal 6:7-8 (NLT)

I had to dig deep and look back at what it was like as a teenager and how I was mislead then. You know my memory is not good but I wanted to put myself where you are as much as possible even though we are talking about two very different time periods, right?

As a teenager your thoughts and actions are driven by your heart more than your mind. You are influenced by your friends-their habits, their approval, their beliefs. You are influenced by  the media and what the world labels as popular and accepting.

When a teenager is faced with a decision, that teenager tends to look more to what others would do in the same situation or what others will think of them verses what the outcome of that decision might be. I know. I lived that. I also know some decisions are very black and white. You steal, you go to jail. You use drugs, you get kicked out of sports. Yet you know of kids who were mislead in even those actions don't you?

How do you protect your self from being misled? I really think there is one factor that opens one up to being misled. It is a word we prefer not to address with our self but too often it does describe us. It is an ugly word. A nasty word.  A dangerous word. A painful word...


A selfish person is all about them and them only. Sometimes they cannot even see this in themself. A selfish person is first concerned with their needs above the needs of others. And this leaves that person wide open to being misled. Let me show you how from Scripture:

"Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character." (I Corinthians 15:33) 

A selfish teenager is more concern how her friends make her look than how they influence her. A selfish teen is blind to see the difference between a friend that has a positive influence on her than a negative one that can harm her. This teen is misled.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. ~ James 1:14-17 

A selfish teen is all about what she wants. In getting what she wants that she thinks will make her happy she gets lost in her desires and pleasures and before she knows it, it controls her thoughts and her actions. The selfish teen will break rules and hurt others to get what she wants. This teen is misled.

I know this. I lived it. I didn't see it then as well as I see it now. Selfishness doesn't stop with the teenage years but continues to grow old with the person if the person doesn't get control over it.  I am thankfully able to see it now that I am more mature (or older as you would say) but it remains a struggle.  Too often I see my own selfishness after the action of being selfish. I am still learning to stop it before it makes me react.

So how do we control this selfishness so we can avoid being misled? Again, can I take you to Scripture?

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. ~ Titus 3:3-8 (NLT)

We avoid being misled by two key steps:
  1. We see it as it is, an ugly sin and we give it to God.
  2. We make God our priority in life.  
As I look on those mis-led times I have experienced when I was young like you are now and those misled times I experienced as I grew older, I could pinpoint it all to my selfishness. These misled times resulted in pain, in regret, even shame. In the misled time, in that moment, it seemed like life was good, the the action was what was best for me at that moment.

I was not holding the hand of God in those times even though I may have been actively claiming to know Him. In those selfish times I was not putting God at front and center in my thoughts or actions or by making Him my best friend. It was all about me, my wants, my desires. All the pain, regret and even shame that came from being misled thankfully has been forgiven by Christ love as we read in the Act 3 passage above. Read it again...

But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”  This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

Acknowledging the selfish part of our being and making it take a back seat to everything else protects us from being misled. Eliminating our selfish being from EVERYTHING ELSE...our friends, our desires, our activities, our thoughts, our love can only happen with God front and center in your life.

 In the beginning God...~Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God. The first four words of the Bible. Words you can take and apply to every area of your life, every decision you need to make, every actions you need to take. Put these four words to action in your life. How?

When you wake up in the morning, begin your day with God by simple prayer, the reading of a devotional or piece of scripture. When God is your first priority, selfishness can't live or breath in your actions or relationships. 

When you have a decision to make, ask yourself what God would want you to do? How would God react to it? Will it bring honor to Him? Can you take this action with God by your side? Anything that honors Him will bring good for you. 

Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but he offers his friendship to the godly. ~ Proverbs 2:32 (NLT) 

Make God your best friend. Imagine hanging with Him, working with Him, partying with Him. If your concerned about whether your friends are good for you or not, ask yourself if they would allow God to hang with you also? Would you and your friends "talk like that" or "act like" that if God was there? If there is a new job or event to go to, can God go to? If there is someone for you to love, will they also love Him?

The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. ~ Psalm 25:14 (NLT)

Keep in mind you could also be misled in the good things. Doesn't make sense does it? How does that work? You could sign up to do something good but if that isn't where God wants you then it isn't good for you. You need to look at the motive of being involved with the good thing.  here are some examples...

When you hang with that popular person do they help you as a person or do they compromise your relationship with your best friend God? 
Should you fall in love with that really great guy even though he doesn't believe in God?  
Are you taking the job for the money even though it will put you in situations that you couldn't take God to?  
Are you involved in a church ministry because of how it makes you look or because of what God can do through you? 

I would love to save you from being mis-led in life. If I could protect you from everything wrong or painful I would. The only protection in life we have from being misled can only come from God. Your mother has learned some life lessons the hard way and they have grown me as a person but I would never wish the negative effects that have resulted from being misled on you-EVER! 

My daughters, you can have many friends, but I implore you to have a best friend, that one person that will never do you wrong, that will never reject you and will always listen and guide you in the good times and the bad times. God wants to be your Best Friend. Embrace the best friendship that only He can give you. Develop it now, while here on earth and imagine the reunion you will experience when you meet Him face-to-face one day.  

Your mother regrets all the years she lived selfishly and did not have her Best Friend front and center in her life. I can only imagine how much better it would have been. You don't have to regret wasted time from being misled. You don't have to wait or imagine what that relationship may have produced in and through you. 

Find your Best Friend!! 

I love you,