Tuesday, May 27, 2014


We have this tree in our backyard that’s actually two different trees.  Three quarters of the tree has beautiful pink blossoms, with leaves that are dark green and red with little berries that arrive during the summer months.  But there is one quarter of the tree that is completely different.  It has white blossoms in spring and bright green leaves.  Last fall while standing on my back deck I noticed some rather large things hanging off that part of the tree.  When I went out to investigate, I found apples, as big as you please dangling from the branches!  Much to my surprise!  We’ve lived in this house for six years and have never had apples before but there they were.

As I looked at the divided tree, I couldn’t help but think of my own life and how I can be so divided.  There are areas in my life where I produce a decent amount of fruit and if you were to only see that side of me you would easily think my whole life was godly and fruitful.  But take a look from another direction and you would see a completely different person.

That’s the side I don’t let too many other people see, but it’s there just the same.  God sees it.  He knows.  It’s the selfish, bitter,  prideful, resentful, self-seeking side that I like to ignore and pretend doesn’t exist.

But unfortunately, it’s there just the same. 

There’s a reason the Bible warns against being divided. 

Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.  James 1.6-8 

It’s easy to justify and rationalize my behavior by only looking at the fruitful portion of my life.  It’s beautiful.  God is using me.  I’m effective.   

Then I think of my tree.   

What if the whole tree was full of apples?  What if I could enjoy not just one or two apples but a whole bushel full?   The beauty of the tree is diminished by its dividedness. 

And my beauty is diminished by my divided heart.  God wants all of me, not just part.  He wants a heart totally surrendered to Him.   In Matthew 6.24, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters.  For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.”   

A heart with divided loyalty, isn’t loyal at all.  

All the justifying in the world won’t make my heart devoted.  Only complete surrender will remove the dividedness overtaking my heart. 

Dear God, 
Here I am again waving my white flag of surrender.  Thank You for being so patient and persevering in my fickle following.  I’m done doing battle with You.  I’m done following my own way, while pretending to follow You.  Remove. Remake. Remold.  I’m Yours.  Amen.


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Most Holy Place

There were two rooms in that Tabernacle.  In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table.  This room was called the Holy Place.  Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place.  Hebrews 9.2-3

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year.  And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.  Hebrews 9.7

When I read these words that were scribed so long ago, I can’t help but think about what it must have been like to continually sacrifice and cleanse yourself and never have the privilege of communing with God.  To have Him distant and separate. 

H O L Y   G O D

I wonder if the people back then would gasp in amazement at the privilege we now have. . .  

Living in the Most Holy Place! 

Forget the priests and the heavy thick veil that blocked the way, we have direct access to the King of King and Lord of Lords!  It’s all gone.  Done away with when our Savior paid the ultimate price for our redemption and restoration.

How easy it is to forget how serious a matter it is to come before a Holy God, to take for granted the privilege we hold in our hands? 

The Israelites lived separated from their God.  Some of them got a glimpse of His greatness and the strength of His power but most lived never having encountered God.  They only knew what was passed down to them or what the priests taught them and only a very select few had even limited access to God.

But when Jesus died the Veil was torn in two and the separation of God from man was no longer necessary.  God.  Became.  Reachable. 

In this age of perfect redemption, of access to a Holy God it is so easy to flippantly approach the throne of grace and forget we are stepping into the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings . . .   Hebrews 10.19-22 

It is our treasure and blessing to have unrestricted admittance into the Most Holy Place.  Let’s not forget the price that was paid so we might not just witness His great works but have an intimate love relationship with Him.

So let me ask you, my friend, are you welcome in the Most Holy Place?  You are, if you’ve surrendered your life to Him.   

Are you grabbing hold of this treasure you possess or letting the moments pass you by because you just can’t seem to find the time? 

He’s waiting . . . enter the Holy of Holies today!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eyes Wide Open

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”  Matthew 19:26 

Have you ever had a desire so huge you thought it would be impossible to ever come true?  Or a burden so big you never imagined how it would be lifted?  

I think all of us at one time or another have had deep hidden requests of God.  And if we’re honest, we secretly never really believed they would be answered.   

I call these, “impossible” prayers. 

I’ve heard lots of excuses of why we give up praying  or never pray for in the first place.   

“It’s probably not in God’s will.”
“It must be No because I haven’t gotten a Yes.”
“I’m too tired to pray anymore."
“How can anyone ever really know God’s will?”

If all the excuses are stripped away, what we’re left with is simply, unbelief.  Unbelief that God is really capable, able or interested enough to answer our prayer. 

Part of the problem is we want our prayer answered OUR WAY. 

Are we praying, “Your will be done” or “MY will be done?”  Are we limiting God’s answer to how we think it should be accomplished?  Do we really want God’s way? 

This year in our Bible study groups, we asked women to write down an “impossible” prayer request.  There was much hesitation and trepidation . . . what would we do if God didn’t answer our prayers? 

As the year progressed, we watched in amazement as God answered prayer after prayer.  Often what we witnessed was God’s answer was vastly different than the way we thought or even prayed!   

We witnessed a loved one experience a fractured hip which exposed alcoholism, which led to rehab and the beginning steps of healing.  Completely unexpected and totally God!   

We prayed that God would change family members, loved ones, friends and what He did was change us!   

We glimpsed fractured relationships restored and watched as God brought hope to hopeless situations.  
Did all of our prayers get answered?  No.  But we are still trusting and still praying. 

In the movie, Princess Bride (a beloved favorite of my family), Farm Boy only says three words to Buttercup, “As you wish.”  As she grows older she begins to realize that what he’s really saying when he says those words is, “I love you.”    

I’m learning that my obedience and desire for God’s will instead of my own is directly related to my love for God.  They go hand in hand.  I can’t have one without the other.

As we’ve taken this journey of “impossible” prayers, my heart desires have changed.  My prayers are still the same but as I lift my request to God, I pray, “As YOU wish” instead of “As I wish.”  It has been a game changer for me.  It has widened my view and expanded my horizons.  Because now I'm watching, eyes wide open, to see how God is working and responding to my prayers.

Lord, may our heart’s desire be, “As You wish.”  Teach us to give everything to You . . . the simple, the challenging and the impossible.  Because we believe all things are possible with You.  Amen