Redefining Good

We all want good. Bad is, well…bad.

But what is good? Is it universal or different for everyone? Is there a secret to getting what is really “good”?

More importantly, what does God say is good and is it the same as what I think is good?

In this week’s video lesson we’ll dig in to Scripture so we can begin to redefine what is good, based on God’s Word, rather than our own fleeting feelings and opinions.

You can find the video link for the lesson here:

 Good Gifts Live Week 1 Video Link

Share the following meme with friends on social media, during your church announcements, or through a method that is private to share the burdens of life together and offer them up through the Good Gift of prayer.

Earthquakes, prayers, and prophecy


I have been through two earthquakes in my life. They were tiny, but there is something unsettling about the earth shaking beneath your feet. As a child, when the first one happened, I was shocked and unsure. I had nightmares for weeks. If the Earth could shake, what else could happen? This time it was little, but would another one come and swallow my family up? My poor parents comforted my fears brought on by an overactive imagination with incredible patience.

The next one happened shortly after Dave and I were married. I was an adult. Things should be better, right? But that earthquake stuck with me for weeks, months even. It opened questions long left tucked away. If the ground itself moved while we went about our business, how unstable was life?

Yesterday we had the Rock standing strong, today we have mountains quaking. Open your Bibles if you have them to Isaiah 64:1-5 to see where they meet.

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains might quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
    and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
    and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
    you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From of old no one has heard
    or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
    who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
    those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
    in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?

Did you notice the irony? These Israelites are asking for an earthquake. They want the mountains to tremble if it means God would come to meet with them. What I called instability, what created fear in my heart and soul, these people were desperate for, because it represented the mighty act of a God that they thought was all but lost.

So they prayed. These verses and those that follow are a prayer of confession. Repentance and reconnection with a God they loved and longed for. In His absence, or rather in the lifting of His closeness, they found themselves parched, thirsty, and incomplete.

“We long for Your presence, Lord!” is their song. “We need You, Lord. We looked away. Forgive us in Your great mercy, we cry out. Make the mountains shake with Your power and might and Here-ness.”

And God answers. He answers prayers with just that –

He comes here.

Jesus Christ came down from on High to be present with His people. The mountains quaked at His death. They quaked at His resurrection.

The proof is in the pudding, folks. Glance at Matthew 27:50-52 –

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised…

Now check out Matthew 28:1-2 –

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Yes! Jesus does just that. He causes the earth to shake, the foundations to tremble because He, friends, is the True Foundation. He is the only thing we really have to stand on.

Want to see another earthquake? Just one more? Turn the pages of Scripture to Acts 4:24-31. I’ll insert just verse 31 below for want of space –

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Prayer does crazy things. God does crazy things. His power is not of this world and when we pray, stuff happens, namely, loving tender care in relationship with a loving tender God. The earth may not shake when we pray, it could, but even when it doesn’t, earth shaking things happen in our own life because we are molded and shaped by His Spirit instead of our own will.

He is ALIVE. His Spirit works! I would rather lean on that any day than the floor underneath me that fades like fall leaves.

And so we pray…

Lord, make my earth quake with Your presence. Let not my heart trust in anything but You and You alone. We call upon You. We confess our trust in the things of this world, in the foundations of this temporal place that passes away. We look to You, Lord, and the forgiveness You offer. We thank You for Your Grace and Mercy and work in our lives daily, for seeking us out and bringing us to You, Lord. Thank you for Your Faithfulness every day. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen. 

 

Exploration:

Have you ever been through a small or large natural disaster? What was your experience?

What comfort does it give, knowing that God sent His Spirit into your life and you will never be without His presence?

Do you have an example of when Jesus shook your life up, metaphorically (or really!), and you drew closer to Him because of it? Your example may be just the witness that someone else needs, so if you are willing please share in the comment section of the blog.

Clay fades or Letting God be God

Some days I feel like I’m fading fast. I just sent a text to my friend that said, “I know I need to give something up. Something has to give, but what?

Ever feel like that? Some of you nod and whisper, “Every day.”

The reality is that we are fading. We can’t do everything. We can only charge ahead at 100% for so long. We will absolutely burn out. Even with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, we were created for rest, just as we were created for work.

Part of my problem, and I’m guessing this resonates with many of you, is that I’m trying to keep it all together for so many people. I think I’m the glue that holds our life together and if I fall apart, or even if I take a nap, who in the world will keep everyone standing? (And seriously, if I do take a nap living room armageddon does appear to take place.)

No? No? Just me. 😉 We’ll here’s a devotion for myself then…

There is a difference between being all things to all people, and believing people need me to be all things to them.

The first, is living in hope, being willing to share hope, to share the way God has worked in my life in the opportunities He gives me. The second, is believing that if I don’t do it, He can’t. He can’t use someone else. He needs me. Oh girls, He uses me. But He surely doesn’t need me.

Why am I so busy trying to be God?

It’s important for me to understand that clay fades. I am dispensable. I would be missed, but I’m not the only one He can use.

Let’s read Isaiah 40:18-24 to get a better handle on this.

To whom then will you liken God,
    or what likeness compare with him?
19 An idol! A craftsman casts it,
    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
    and casts for it silver chains.
20 He who is too impoverished for an offering
    chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
    to set up an idol that will not move.

21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

Building idols…we make an idol of ourselves when we think we are so very necessary to everyone’s existence. We puff ourselves up, in a way. “What would they do without me? Aren’t I so busy and important? This place would fall apart without me.”

Deep down we are afraid to fade.

We are afraid that we won’t have a legacy, we won’t be remembered, we won’t matter.

Without intending to, we build idols of wood and peeling gold by trying to be everything for our homes, our families, our employers, our churches, our friends.

God would never have us forsake a relationship, a commitment, but the question becomes –

What is at the center?

How do we put our children at the center instead of God?

How do we put our marriages and our spouses at the center instead of God?

How do we put our homes and our household chores at the center instead of God?

How do we put our vocations, our successes at the center instead of God?

How do we put our sports teams and our hobbies and our interests at the center instead of God?

These are all things we literally “build” our life around. Isaiah 40:24 tells us –

Scarcely are they planted…

Scarcely are they sown…

Scarcely has their stem taken root…

when they wither,

they are carried off.

The world gives pressure. It says, “hold it together, hold everything standing tall, upright, firmly rooted.” We know it’s not sustainable. We can feel it slipping from our grasp.

Because clay fades.

That is what it does. We only last so long here on this earth and we were never meant to hold everything together, only God was.

So, when you need a moment. Take a moment. Turn it to Him.

Worship Him. Tell Him, “You know I can’t do this, Lord. Only you can hold it all together. Only You. I am Clay.”

I am Clay. I can’t do it all. Only you can, Lord.

Take this burden, Lord. Take it.

And Jesus promises that He does. Remind yourself of His comfort in Matthew 11:28-30.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

He holds all of it. He holds our life and our children, our homes and our jobs, our health, all of it in His hands. He hands us an easier yoke, a Salvation-shaped yoke of peace and joy and forgiveness and love unending.

I am clay. I can’t do it all. Only you can, Lord.

So, if you find yourself, sitting like me…spent, tired, wondering what’s going to give…print this off. Put it somewhere prominent. Share it with a friend who could use it. Share the struggle of the journey together. When you see it, remind yourself of the truth found in Isaiah 40:28 –

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.

I am clay. Only you, Lord. Only you.
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*photo made with the fontcandy app

Exploration:

What kinds of things lead you to the end of your rope? Your job, cleaning, cooking, family drama, etc?

What is your favorite way to turn things over to God? Do you have a favorite prayer or song, verse, or refrain that helps you place the burdens of life back on Your Savior?

To Live is Christ – Sidewalk Prophets