Saving The Best For Last

Scripture: John 2:

8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

    They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

Observation:  The new wine is on it’s way and God has saved the best for last.

Application:   We live in a very exciting time.  There is no doubt that our world has sped up, and things are progressing at an ever increasing rate.  Things are moving fast, technology is growing fast, our food is processed and served to us fast, and we ourselves are moving and working faster than we ever have in human history.  It’s a microwave, and broadband world, and there seems to be no slowing it down.  Perhaps this is why we have so much stress, anxiety, divorce and violent crime.  Things are going so fast now and it seems that we must be coming to point where it’s all going to run out and dry up. 

There are lots of people who are concerned about what’s going to happen in 2012.  Will the Mayan calendar prove prophetic as it ends its cycle and predicts no more movements of the heavens?  Will some dreaded asteroid that we haven’t spotted yet wipe out civilization?  Will we finally destroy ourselves with thermonuclear weapons?  Or could it be something that no one has even thought about that brings about the end? 

It feels as though the wine at the wedding feast is running out for us. But this scripture can speak to us today in the fact that as everything started looking like a tragedy at this wedding in Cana, Jesus stepped up and turned it into a wonderful celebration.  The best wine was brought forth at the end of the feast, and I think this is a prophetic oracle that is far more reliable than the Mayan calendar.

No matter what the future holds, we can look forward to it with glorious hope and expectations because although we may be unsure of coming events, we know someone who is sure, and who has a plan.  From our current point of view God’s future for mankind may seem uncertain, but one thing we can know is that whatever happens, we will see God’s love demonstrated for us in gloriously powerful and miraculous ways. 

I’m not the least bit worried about 2012, or asteroids, or nuclear war because no matter what happens in the world – AND no matter what happens in my personal life I am sure that God has saved the best for last, and it’s going to be a great celebration when God brings the New Wine!

Prayer:  Father,

Thank you for saving the best for last.  Please help me to always trust in you so much that I have no fears of the future and no anxiety about what is to come. Grant me the inner peace that allows me to slow down and sip the New Wine of Your Spirit and drink fully of your love.

Love Michael

Yield: I surrender any worries about what the future may hold.

This Land Is Not Your Land

 Scripture: Isaiah 61:

7 Instead of your shame
       you will receive a double portion,
       and instead of disgrace
       you will rejoice in your inheritance.
       And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
       and everlasting joy will be yours.

Observation:  The joy we find here in this land quickly fades, but when we get home, our joy will be everlasting.

Application: I know there is peace and joy to be had in life and I believe that with God in our heart we have even more access to those good things that make life abundant because His Spirit awakens them in us even in the face of adversity. Peace, joy, love, compassion, hope and faith are available to the children of God if we can just look beyond our circumstances and accept them.  These wonderful things are provided by God, they belong to us, they are ours.

So why aren’t we always joyful, why are we not always at peace?  I think that the message of this scripture today is that the reason we can’t hold on to those things all the time is because we’re not at home yet.  We are in a strange land.  Although we were built for fellowship with God, we are like Peter as he walked on the water toward Jesus and are constantly being distracted by the environment in which we must live.

As I write today, the words of an old hymn keep playing through my mind.

What a day that will be when my Jesus I will see, when I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace.  When he takes me by the hand, and leads me through the promised land. What a day, glorious day that will be.”  What A Day That Will Be

While here on this earth, the best that we can do is to focus on The Lord as we struggle through our trials and tribulations.  When we get to our true home in heaven, and we are constantly surrounded by God’s love and totally enveloped in His Spirit then our joy will be full and everlasting.

Prayer:  Dear God,

Thank you for the sure and certain promise of my heavenly home with you.  Thank you for loving me so much.  Thank you for bringing me through my darkest days.  Please forgive me when I allow the world to distract me and help me to re-focus on you.

Love Michael

It’s Me God

Scripture: Isaiah 59:

1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
       nor his ear too dull to hear.

2 But your iniquities have separated
       you from your God;
       your sins have hidden his face from you,
       so that he will not hear.

3 For your hands are stained with blood,
       your fingers with guilt.
       Your lips have spoken falsely,
       and your tongue mutters wicked things.

Observation: We are never farther away from God than we have taken ourselves.

Application:  We had a difficult night last night.  I got angry, I yelled, I stomped around, I knocked over a chair, I got in the car and took a drive and drove too fast, not caring what lay ahead.  I made my family worry about me, I made them cry.  And now this morning, I’m sorry for the way I acted. 

This scripture speaks to me today because I look back on how I’ve felt that God is far from me for the past few weeks.  I have asked God where He was, and Why He’s not helping me, and I realize that it’s not that God has left me, It’s me who has pulled away from Him.  I have allowed my own selfishness and insecurities to separate me from God, and from those who care the most about me.

It’s up to me to pick up and move forward and do the right thing.  I look at my family and see God’s grace.  They forgive me for my outburst already, and I know that God will forgive me to.  As I look out on the morning, and breath the fresh air I can see that there is new strength for the day. 

Prayer: So now I know that it’s not you who have pulled away from me, It’s ME God who has pulled away from you.  And this morning I confess my sins before you, and ask that you push them away from me so that I may once again feel your presence and know that you are near.

Love Michael

Father Knows Best

Scripture: Isaiah 55:

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow
       come down from heaven,
       and do not return to it
       without watering the earth
       and making it bud and flourish,
       so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
       It will not return to me empty,
       but will accomplish what I desire
       and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Observation:  I may not understand God’s plans, but I trust that He knows what He’s doing, and that His understandings are much better than mine.

Application:  Things are the way they are for a reason.  There is a purpose behind it all.  I have long felt that there are no such things as coincidences and that everything happens for a reason.  God uses all of the circumstances that we encounter in life for His good purposes and plans.  We may not understand what’s going on or why, but God knows.  And He has promised us that it is just as natural and easy for him to accomplish His purposes on earth as it is for the rain to water the ground.

As I wake up this morning it’s been raining outside.  I can walk out into the grass and my feet will be wet.  God sent the rain for the purpose of watering the earth, and all the inhabitants of the earth benefit from the fulfillment of God’s purpose for the rain.  Later the sun may come out and it to will accomplish a purpose set down by God.  It’s all just nature, and we don’t pay much attention to it, but God does.  God knows where each raindrop falls, and He knows where each ray of sunlight shines.  He has orchestrated it all for a reason, and He delights in the accomplishing of each aspect of creations purpose because it brings Him glory.

We are part of creation.  I am part of God’s creation.  Just as He sends rain on the plants and trees to help them grow, He also sends things for me to expand my mind, emotions, and spirit.  Sometimes it’s a little quick rain shower, and sometimes it’s a storm that lasts all night long.  Sometimes there may even be some heavy wind and lightning that seems to tear things up, but God knows what He’s doing…

Really what I have to do is resign myself to the truth that God is in control, He knows everything that’s going on, and not only does He know about it, He is orchestrating it all for a purpose that I may not be able to see with my limited perspective.  It’s all natural and easy for God – He knows I’m struggling, but He also knows why, and He’s watching over me.  I can trust in God – because He loves me.

Prayer:  Father,

Help me to trust in you fully.  I know that your ways are not always known to me, but that they are always what is best and right and good.  Help me Lord to lean on you, help me to rely on you, help me to know that no matter what happens you are with me.

Love Michael

Calling The Future As If It Were Past

Scripture: Isaiah 52:

13 See, my servant will act wisely;
       he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him —
       his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—

15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
       and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
       For what they were not told, they will see,
       and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Observation:  Gods people speak of things that have yet to happen as if they have already happened, because if God declares it, there is no doubt about it, it’s as good as done.

Application:  Our scripture today is one of the several prophecies of the coming Messiah prophesied by Isaiah.  It speaks of both the suffering and the glory that Christ would experience.  Within these brief verses we have both beautiful and appalling descriptions of what was to happen when The Messiah would come.  There would be awful suffering by Christ, He would be abused and disfigured, but there would also be great glory.  After the suffering was finished, the glory would come, and it would be so great that it would save the whole of mankind. 

I find comfort in this today.  If you’ve read the last few days of this journal, I’m sure you can tell that I’ve been having a difficult time lately.  I don’t wish to go into details about why, but I’ll say that for the past few months my stress has been building, and over the course of the past week it seems to have crescendoed and I have been suffering emotionally, physically and spiritually.

It’s really amazing how God can speak to us so profoundly through the scriptures.  I needed this one today.  I needed to understand that although God allows suffering, (Life’s Not For Sissies) He doesn’t fail to bless and lift up and strengthen and send peace. 

What really stands out to me the most today is the tense of the verbs used in v 14.  Although this is probably one of the most difficult verses of prophecy concerning Christ, because it speaks of his terrible suffering, the usage of the words puts it all in the past, as if it had already happened. 

Just as there were many who were appalled at him —
       his appearance was so disfigured

Of course when Isaiah wrote this prophecy, Jesus had yet to be born, and the suffering was yet to come, but here he speaks of it as if it were past.  Why?  Is this just some poetic speech that makes the prophet sound more wise?  No – this is a faith, this is a knowing that although these things must happen, they will also come to pass.  I find peace in this, because I know that the suffering that is now manifesting in my life will also come to pass.  And I can be grateful and count it all joy as the apostle Paul said because although the difficulties of this life may seem great, they will pale and vanish away in the glory of heaven.

Prayer:  Dear God,

Be with me, and be with all those who suffer.  Grant me your Spirit and help me to  trust that although life is not always easy, I will get through it because You are with me, and your Spirit is within.

Love Michael.

Not Alone

 Scripture: Isaiah 49;

13 Sing for joy, O heavens!
      Rejoice, O earth!
      Burst into song, O mountains!
   For the Lord has comforted his people
      and will have compassion on them in their suffering.

14 Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;
      the Lord has forgotten us.”

15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
      Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
   But even if that were possible,
      I would not forget you!
16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
      Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.

Observation: Sometimes it feels like you’re all alone when you go through difficult times, but God will never forget you or leave you.

Application:   I remind myself of this – God is with me.  I’m Not Alone. No matter what’s happening in my life, God is with me.  Yet, I long for more, more presence of His Spirit, more assurance of His guiding hand.  I long for a knowledge that He is unfolding a plan for me and my family.  So I praise God for His grace, for His peace, for His comfort.  I praise Him for these things, even though I don’t see them before me at this time.  I know, I know they are there, and if I reach out and take them, they are mine.  But my strength to reach out is… fading.

This exercise, this meditation, this daily practice that is my journal which I have decided to share with the world.  I want it to lift up, encourage, give strength.  But right now I feel that I’m in a deep valley and I have nothing to give.  If I share something with you right now that I don’t feel – then I would be faking it.  But I don’t want to fake it – this is as real as it gets.  I’m down, but I’m not beaten.  I’m hurting, but I know I’ve not been forsaken nor forgotten.  I remind myself of this – God is with me.  I’m Not Alone.

“Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long,
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.

Farther along we’ll know all about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.”

Farther Along
Words and Music by J.R.Baxter and W.B.Stevens
© 1937 Stamps-Baxter Music

Prayer: Dear God,

Please help me to feel you near me. Please help my family.  Please help us all.

Love Michael

If It Warnt For Bad Luck I’d Have No Luck At All

Scripture:  1 Peter 4:

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Observation:  You should probably not pay any attention to this…

Application:  Well I’m sitting here Lord, I’m trying to listen.  Look!  I’m here, like every day for the past six months I’m here!  Where are you?  I’m trying God.  Everything is feeling out of synch.  I’m happy one day, and the next I’m miserable.  No – it’s more intense than that – I’m joyful one moment, and within the click of a clock you allow my world to turn upside down!

I know I’m blessed.  I know, I know and I praise you for it.  I have a loving family, my flesh and blood family make me realize the depth of your love and grace, and also those of my spiritual family, they are of the highest quality people that a person could be blessed to know.  I have many blessings I know.  So why am I so upset with you?  Why don’t you just let me know WHY? Why do I go through the fiery ordeals?  The scripture said that they are meant as a test.  Do you delight in the testing, or is there a purpose before me that I need to endure this?  SPEAK GOD!

I long for sleep but can not find it, I pray for peace, I pray for understanding, I pray for contentment, but there is none to be allotted to me.  I am poured out like water, and still I must go on.  How can I lift up, how can I minister, how can I bind up the wounds of others when my own are crippling my every move.  With every breath my problems seem to multiply and here I am Lord, where you’ve led me, where you’ve put me, and now what?  WHERE ARE YOU?

Prayer: OH God