Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Ministry of Beholding His Face

So, I realize that it has been a really long while since I have shared anything on this ministry.  And I'm not sure what God has planned in the future for The Indwelling Word Ministries; I'll have to pray about that. But God placed a message on my heart today that I thought I should share with you.

The Lord has been teaching me much lately about simply studying Him.  Remembering Who He is and what He has done for us.  I know I've talked about this before, but it is so easy (for me!) to forget to look full into His wonderful face.

I'm sure there are many passages I could share, but the one God laid on my heart this morning is Isaiah 40:9-11.

~~Isaiah 40:9-11~~
"O Zion, You who bring good tidings, 
Get up into the high mountain; 
O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, 
Lift up your voice with strength, 
Lift it up, be not afraid; 
Say to the cities of Judah, 
"Behold your God!" 
Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, 
And His arm shall rule for Him; 
Behold, His reward is with Him, 
And His work before Him. 
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
 He will gather the lambs with His arm, 
And carry them in His bosom, 
And gently lead those who are with young."

After these three verses, Isaiah goes on to talk about how there is absolutely nothing that can compare to our Lord.  But look at that command in verse nine:  "Tell everyone you know, shout from the rooftops, lift up your voice with strength.  And say: Behold. Behold your God."

Wow.  What is the command we receive here?  We are instructed to behold our God.  To muse on the works of His hands. To meditate on what He has done for us.  To think about Who He is.

There have been seasons in my life, where I honestly haven't focused my heart upon His character and goodness.  And those were times where I was oft distracted by the things of the world, oft discouraged by my own imperfections.  But these past few days, God has been calling me back to Himself.  Calling my just to walk hand-in-hand with Him and allow Him to turn my eyes back onto things that are eternal. And I can testify from personal experience that beholding His face is the most amazing thing ever!  Last night, I was so overwhelmed with His grace in the face of my own weakness and unfaithfulness, that I was simply overflowing with praise!  I understood through my own experience what the psalmist said when he wrote, "My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King, my tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Psalm 45:1).  I couldn't contain the joy inside and couldn't help but share God's goodness with some friends. =)

That is how my perspective changed by beholding my Lord.  And honestly, it was one of the most amazing things I've done.  It continues to be, as I continue to look at Him.

I suppose I can't make you begin to behold His face once you hit "exit" after reading this post. But I can share my own experiences and the Word of God with you. I'm not going to list off 101 benefits of meditating on Him.  Nor am I going to list off all the Scripture passages that talk about how we should do it.  I only ask that you might come away from the things of this world that are so empty and will never satisfy, and allow your gaze to be fixed upon the King of kings. There is nothing more amazing.  Nothing.

If you wonder where to start, or how even to begin beholding His face, I suggest two things for you:
  1. Read the Scriptures.  You can start with Isaiah 40, which says so much about Who God is and how absolutely amazing and incomparable He is.  God's Word reveals to us Who He is.  Be faithful, my dear friend, to read it and muse over it.  This Word literally has the power to change your life, as you gaze upon the King (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  2. Keep a thanksgiving journal.  I've been writing down the things that I'm thankful for and it's really helped me to look around and see God's presence in my life and how good He has been. It's forced me to watch for His answers to my prayers and I've witnessed Him at work.  And watching Him in my own life has definitely put a song of praise in my heart.
And with those thoughts, I leave you.  My friends, God is so good.  <3 I'm overwhelmed at His mercy and His grace.  Even that He has brought me to this place in my spiritual walk where I realize that nothing is more important than Him.  Without His help, I would have never reached this place, but would have continued to wallow in misery and selfishness.  God is ever so good to His children!

"Praise the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name." ~Psalm 30:4

Monday, June 13, 2016

Praying in Jesus' Name

I've been thinking today about what it means to pray in Jesus' name.  John MacArthur offers a great commentary on this topic, speaking about John 14:14 which says, "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."  I pray that you may be encouraged to pray in Jesus' name, understanding in full what that means.

Jesus’ disciples had left everything and were completely without resources. Without their Master, they would be all alone in a hostile world. Yet, He assured them, they did not need to worry about any of their needs. The gap between Him and them would be closed instantly whenever they prayed. Even though He would be absent, they would have access to all His supplies.

That is not carte blanche for every whim of the flesh. There’s a qualifying statement repeated twice. He doesn’t say, “I’ll give you absolutely anything you ask for,” but rather, “I’ll do what you ask in My name.” That does not mean we can simply tack the words, “in-Jesus’-name-amen” on the end of our prayers and expect the answers we want every time. Neither is it a special formula or abracadabra that will magically guarantee the granting of our every wish.

The name of Jesus stands for all that He is. Throughout Scripture, God’s names are the same as His attributes. When Isaiah prophesied that Messiah would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), he was not listing actual names, but rather giving an overview of Messiah’s character. “I am who I am,” the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, is as much an affirmation of God’s eternal nature as it is a name by which He is to be called.

Therefore, praying in the name of Jesus is more than merely mentioning His name at the end of our prayers. If we are truly praying in Jesus’ name, we will pray only for that which is consistent with His perfect character, and for that which will bring glory to Him. It implies an acknowledgement of all that He has done and a submission to His will.

What praying in Jesus’ name really means is that we should pray as if our Lord Himself were doing the asking. We approach the throne of the Father in full identification with the Son, seeking only what He would seek. When we pray with that perspective, we begin to pray for the things that really matter, and we eliminate selfish requests

Friday, June 3, 2016

How to Look to Jesus --Part 3

As you know, over these past few weeks we've really been examining different ways we can fix our gaze upon the Person of Jesus Christ.  For me, these things can be so easy to allow to slip to the side.  But I know when I take the time to very purposefully place my eyes upon Jesus, the results are far greater than I have time to tell here.  I pray that the Spirit may move in your heart, drawing you to fix your gaze upon Him.

These suggestions are small ones, not as significant as the ones we have talked about already.  Nevertheless, I thought I would give them to you in the hopes that, in some small way, they might encourage you (and me while I am writing them!).

4. Journal

Although it's so easy to allow this to fall to the side (I speak from personal experience), recording God's faithfulness--in the little things and the big things--has been so instrumental in my walk with the Lord.  It helps me to be more aware throughout the day of what God is doing and saying so that I can write it down.  And whenever I am feeling discouraged or downtrodden, I can look back at those journals, the records of God's faithfulness, love, and mercy, and be encouraged.  There have been countless times when paging through those entries has lifted my spirits and my eyes to the One who loves me with an everlasting love.

5. Talk about Him with Others

This can be so beneficial!  When you gather with fellow believers (and even sharing the gospel with those who do not know the Lord), you will find that turning the conversation to the things of the Lord is so helpful to turning your gaze back to Him.  Even when the conversation is over I find myself reflecting on the things we have talked about and, in turn, praising the Lord.  Just try it!

This is all I have time for today.  Be encouraged my friend!  Consider your Savior, for He has bought you with an everlasting love and drawn you with His mercy.  This Gentle Savior is more amazing than anything this world has ever known!  Let us fix our eyes on HIM.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to Look to Jesus --Part 2

As we continue studying what it means to look to Jesus, I want to give you one thought to ponder as you go about your day.  We'll add it to the list of ways to remember Him that we began last Wednesday.  We've already looked at reading God's Word and meditating on the Scriptures, now let us examine a third way we can refocus the eyes of our heart upon the risen Savior.

3. Praise and Worship

This is so important!  The Psalmist speaks often of praising the Lord, and it was clear the effect it had upon his life.  His thoughts were continually turned upon the King of kings.

Praising God is something that we should do every moment of every day! We can worship Him literally anywhere.  Doing the dishes, taking a shower, driving to work each day.  It doesn't take much to praise Him.  Singing songs is a wonderful way to bring glory to Him through praise, but it isn't necessary.  Take time to adore Him with verses of Scripture you have memorized, or just thoughts that come to your mind concerning His character and goodness.

Direct your admiration towards HIM, through times of worship and praise.

I have found it especially wonderful (and richly rewarding) to set-apart a time in my day to praising God.  A time where I leave the noise of the world behind, get out some worship music or open my Bible to the Psalms.  In those moments I allow my heart to give way to deep and heartfelt praise.  I encourage you to do this along with me.  Let every breath praise the Lord!

This is not only something we should prioritize in private, but also in public.  Ephesians 5:19 reminds us, "Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart."  Just imagine with me for a moment what would happen if we actually followed this verse.  What if we really obeyed this Scripture?

Oh, let everything that has breath praise the LORD!

Psalm 117:1-2:
"Praise the Lord, all nations! 
Extol him, all peoples! 
For great is his steadfast love toward us, 
and the faithfulness of the Lord 
endures forever. 
Praise the Lord!"

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to Look to Jesus

You may remember last Wednesday, when we looked at Peter's adventure on the water, where he looked straight at Jesus and had faith.  But when he took his eyes off of his Savior and gazed around him at the wind and the waves, his faith faltered.  I've been thinking a lot lately about just how important looking to Jesus really is.  But today, instead of diving into all the reasons why we should look to Jesus, I want us to think about some practical ways we *can* look to Jesus.

You see, saying "Remember Him" or "Turn your eyes upon Jesus" can sound good in theory, but I've found they can be rather hard to accomplish in practice.  So just what does these phrases mean? And how can we, on a practical, everyday basis, live with our eyes fixed upon the King of kings.

I made a little list in my journal, and would like to share some of those things here with you today.

1. Read the Scriptures  

Gloria K. made a good point in a comment she left on last weeks' article.  She said, "I'm convinced the only way to keep our eyes on Jesus is to constantly immerse ourselves in His Word."  This is so true.  I have found in my own life that when I make the effort to spend time at His feet in the Word each morning, my thoughts are more directed upon Him throughout the day.  But when I sleep in late, or get up and do other things, my day is more likely to be distracted and not centered upon Christ.

Another thing I have found to be helpful is to read the Scriptures throughout the day.  Have verses pasted around your house, on your computer/phone, in your school books--wherever you will see them often.  Even just pausing for 15 minutes during your lunch break to read the Scriptures can help your mind refocus on Him.  Imagine with me for a moment what would happen if we took every spare moment of our free time and spent it in the pursuit of God's Word--whether through reading it, or through meditating on it.  Wouldn't the results be amazing?!  Maybe, just maybe, you should try it.  =)

Now, it's one thing to read God's Words, and it is another thing to study the Scriptures.  When you spend focused time (at any point during the day) to study what God's Word has to say, making notes or looking up other verses to support it, etc. you will find the message sticking in your head in a much greater way.

2. Meditate on Verses from Scripture

I have found this to be one of the most effective ways to fix my thoughts upon the Lord.  When we meditate on verses of a nature that pertains to His character or what He has done for us, our thoughts are purposefully placed upon Him.  Let me tell you all something, this turning our eyes upon Jesus thing, it doesn't happen subconsciously.  It takes purposeful, planned out effort if you want to set your mind on things above.  It takes hard work, but in the end it is more than worth it. (P.S. I have found though that the more you purposefully look to Jesus, the more naturally it becomes. After a while you will find yourself inherently focusing on Him.

So meditating on specific verses of Scripture that talk about Who He is is a really purposeful way to fix the eyes of your heart upon Him.

Not only is it important to meditate on a particular verse or passage, it is also a good idea to look at the broader scope of things and remember the message of the gospel.  Reply what happened on the cross in your mind--while you're on a car ride, doing the dishes, or falling asleep--redeem the time when your mind is otherwise unoccupied to remember the cross and what Jesus did for you there.
Sadly, that's all we have time for today, but I encourage you to keep thinking about the practical ways we can fix our eyes upon Him. You're welcome to share with me in the comments or contact page; I would love to hear! I have more thoughts on this subject that I hope to share with you sometime soon!  Until then, may your eyes be ever fixed upon the face of your King.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fix your Gaze Upon Jesus

Matthew 14:22-33:

"22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”


I've been thinking about this story lately.  Peter saw his Lord coming and immediately was filled with great faith.  He stepped out on the water.  Notice at this point where his eyes are looking.  Toward Jesus.  But then what happened?

He took his eyes off of Jesus.

Oh my, the winds are great.  Oh, and the waves!  And as he began to look around him, his faith and his footsteps faltered.  He began to look around him at the things of this world, and immediately he lost his faith.  He lost his hope and sense of security.  Suddenly the wind and the waves seemed greater and more powerful than anything else.

How often are we like Peter?

We see God and we have great faith.  Our gaze is fixed steadily upon Him and we believe anything is possible.  But then (typically in our generation, this happens slowly and unconsciously) our gaze turns downward.  Look at those waves.  The wind blows so fiercely!  Our problems seem so big, and for some strange reason, our God seems so small.

We have lost our faith.  Why?  Because we turned our eyes off of Jesus.

My friends, how easy it is to allow our gaze to falter off of the King of kinds. The natural inclination of our flesh is to look at the things of this world.  But we must reject this inclination.  We must fix our eyes upon Jesus.

This is easy to think about conceptually, but what about practically?  How can we turn our eyes upon Jesus each and every day of our lives?

I've been thinking about this question a lot over the past few days, but I would like to give you a chance to think.  How do we fix our gaze upon Jesus?  You are welcome to share your thoughts below in the comments section or share privately through the "Contact" page.  I'm looking forward to hearing from you!