This Is The Way

courtesy wikipedia

Leonhard Seppala’s lead dog, Togo.

In 1925 a life or death mission was undertaken by twenty mushers and more than 100 sled dogs. This mission would not have succeeded if the dogs pulling the sleds carrying diphtheria antitoxin serum, refused to listen to their musher’s voice saying, This is the way.

The diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome, Alaska. Nome’s supply of antitoxin expired, and the town’s doctor refused to use it. The nearest antitoxin was in Anchorage. Nearly one thousand miles away. The only way to get the antitoxin to Nome was by sled dog. After receiving the serum by plane in Nanana, the mushers with their sled dogs relayed the 20-pound cylinder of serum to Nome. 674 miles and five and a half days later the serum arrived safely in Nome.

Followers of Christ are tasked with a life-saving mission to take an antitoxin serum–God’s truth and love–to a sick and dying world. For our mission to succeed, we need to listen to God’s voice. He is the one who directs our path in the way we should go.

Our mission to carry the Good News of salvation through Christ Jesus is a coordinated mission. It takes each and every one of us working together.

The way is treacherous filled with adverse conditions and winding trails. At times we may face extreme white-out conditions. The only way to know the direction we should travel is by listening to the voice behind us saying, This is the way. Walk in it.

We may feel like giving up. Like our strength is gone. But we aren’t alone. Others in the  race run beside us, helping us carry the serum.

When trail markers become hidden in the storm causing us to take a wrong turn, the voice behind says, This is the way. Walk in it. At the sound of his voice we make a correction, and get back on the correct trail.

During those times when the trail is too difficult to forge on our own, our Leader walks in front of us, guiding us, whispering to us, This is the way. Walk in it.

Taking the familiar trail may seem more logical than the one the voice behind us calls us to take. That’s when we have a choice. Believe God knows more than we do, or not. Listen to his voice and follow, or not.

One way to hear God’s voice is to spend time listening for it through meditating on his word. We need to become so familiar with our Master’s voice, if another voice tries to direct us, we recognize it as a fraud and shut our ears to it.

God’s voice stills, reassures, leads, enlightens, forgives, calms, encourages, and comforts. The enemy’s voice rushes, frightens, pushes, confuses, condemns, stresses, discourages, and worries.

As was true in 1925, our life-saving mission today is of the utmost importance. The trail and weather conditions are extreme. The dedication to save lives is sacrificial. The end result is more than worth it.

This is the way. Walk in it.

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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Who Will Go For Us?

courtesy pixabayAround 742 B.C. the prophet Isaiah heard the Lord ask, “Who will go for us?”

To which the prophet replied, “Here am I. Send me!”

I wonder…are we as eager to respond to God’s call as Isaiah?

Here I am, God. Whatever you ask, I’ll do it.

Wherever you send, I’ll go.

No matter how difficult, or how far outside my comfort zone, if you call, I’m the person for the job.

What I’ve often found is when we feel God calls us to step up and take on something for him, we become afraid to say yes to his “Who will go for us?”

We’re afraid God might ask us to do something beyond our abilities.

Or something unpleasant.

Or something which will require too much from us.

Or…fill in your own blanks.

Every time God called one of his prophets in the Old Testament it cost the prophet something.

Anoint Saul’s successor while Saul’s still king of Israel, realizing if Saul chased David all around the country to keep him from taking his throne, he wouldn’t be too happy having you anoint him. (Samuel) Cast into a cistern? Put in stocks? (Jeremiah) Told your wife would die, yet you are not to mourn outwardly for her? (Ezekiel) Thrown in a lion’s den? (Daniel)

It was beyond human ability to accomplish on their own.

Call down fire from the sky? Fed by ravens beside a brook? Raise a widow’s son back to life? (Elijah) Divide the Jordan River by striking it with a cloak? Provide unlimited oil to pay a creditor to save a widow’s two sons from slavery? Cure leprosy? (Elisha)

It was often unpleasant, and usually involved being despised by the people God sent the men to reach.

Plague of locusts? (Joel) Declare social justice is inseparable from true piety? (Amos) Swallowed by a large fish? (Jonah) Warn kings and rulers who despised justice and distorted what is right, their city would be reduced to rubble. Remind rulers God requires all men (and woman) to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD?(Micah)

Warn the arrogant, those who make themselves wealthy through extortion, and build their realm by unjust gain, they will not escape God’s wrath? (Habakkuk) Declare woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled? (Zephaniah) Warn the people to give careful thought to their actions and the need to put God first. (Haggai) Declare judgment on the nations at Christ’s return. (Zechariah) Punishment to those who do not follow the Lord’s ways? (Malachi)

Phew.

I’m thinking not many of us will be called upon to serve God in the same way prophets in the Old Testament did.

Still, we may be hesitant. We may forget the One who calls us knows what we are capable of. We may forget he knows our strengths and our weaknesses. We may also forget God will not send us where he knows we’ll fail. Why would he do that?

Isaiah and the other prophets were able to reply, “Here am I. Send me!” when God asked, “Who will go for us?” because they trusted the One sending them.

Let’s pray when we’re called, we’ll respond the same way. Here am I. Send me!

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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Trusting God In The Wilderness

As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God tested them to see if they would lay down their desires and obey him. Once they learned to trust God, their pride was replaced with humility.

At the moment we believe in our ability more than God’s ability, pride can prevent us from trusting God through our wilderness journeys as well.

God laid out the rules for gathering the manna he provided. Gather only enough for the day’s needs every morning. Gather more than that, you’ll end up with a basketful of moldy maggot-filled manna.

The Israelites had to trust God would keep his word and provide for their daily needs. Their provision was not dependent on how hard they worked, or how efficiently they gathered and stored the manna. It had nothing to do with them other than obedience and trust.

If the Israelites wouldn’t trust God in the simple act of gathering manna each morning, it was doubtful they would trust God to deliver them from the wilderness to the land of Canaan. Their refusal to believe Joshua and Caleb’s report after the two men spied on the land proved that point. (Numbers 13 & 14)

The Israelites grumbled and complained about the manna. They wanted to go back to Egypt where they could eat the foods they were accustomed to. Even if that meant a return to slavery.

God tested the Israelites to see what was in their hearts. He tested them to prepare them for the greater things he planned. He tested them to move them from a place of pride in their own accomplishments to humble trust in his sovereignty.

God had big plans in store for the Israelites. Plans which included bringing his Son into this world as a sacrifice for our sins. Manna in the wilderness was a starting point of obedience to prepare the Israelites to trust God with bigger things.

God tests us in similar ways. He wants to see what is in our hearts. He wants to see if we will lay down our pride and humbly trust him. He wants to see how well we trust him with the small things, before moving us to a place of bigger possibilities.

Is there a wilderness area God is asking you to trust him in?

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Do you remember how the Lord led you through the wilderness for all those forty years, humbling you and testing you to find out how you would respond, and whether or not you would really obey him? Deuteronomy 8:2 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God’s Grace Is Sufficient

When we are weak, God’s grace, provision, is sufficient. God’s power inside us becomes stronger when we face problems and troubles we can’t handle on our own. Have you experienced that in your life? I sure have. The key, I believe, is to acknowledge we are not as strong as we think we are. To borrow a line from Rich Mullins.

In our world weakness is not something we go around boasting about. Our world strives for self-sufficiency. But Jesus tells us to bring our burdens and cares to him for he cares for us. He promises to help us carry the weight of the things which weigh us down.

Often we buy into the lie it’s all on us to fix, solve, restore, provide…forgetting those are things God in his grace promises to do for us when we trust him. God’s power shows up in our weakness. Our job is to humbly admit we’re weak and accept what he offers. He gives grace for each day to complete what needs completed in his power and strength.

The apostle Paul begged God to take away his “thorn in the flesh.” We aren’t told what the thorn was, but God didn’t remove it. What God did was enable Paul to carry the burden through God’s power working in Paul.

Because of that, Paul cheerfully made up his mind to boast in his weakness so others would know anything he accomplished was through the power of God.

How have you experienced God’s grace in your weakness?

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Three times I begged the Lord for it to leave me, but his reply has been, “My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.” Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (Phillips)

Or as the Hawai‘i Pidgin says: “I do plenny good tings fo you, an dass all you need. My power mo strong inside you wen you no can handle trouble yoa own self.”

I wish you well.

Sandy

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On The Prowl

A large gray cat has been on the prowl in our backyard looking for some unsuspecting bird or squirrel to devour. Whenever I see the intruder, I rush outside and tell it to scat. I wish the cat wore a collar with a bell attached to warn its prey of its approach.

Reminds me of Satan.

He is constantly on the prowl looking for some unsuspecting individual to devour. If he wore a bell, better still a loud gong to announce his approach, perhaps we’d put up our guard and not fall prey to his attacks.

In the old television series, Lost in Space, a robot often walked around waving his arms through the air shouting, “Warning Will Robinson! Warning!” in an attempt to keep young Will from danger.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had such a robot?

Just think how something like that might have shut Eve’s ears to the serpent’s lies. Or kept Abraham from passing Sarah off as his sister. Twice. Or Moses from losing his temper, Miriam from bad-mouthing Moses’ wife, and Jacob from stealing Esau’s blessing.

An early warning system might have kept Joseph’s brothers from selling him into slavery, Samson from being Samson, and David from sleeping with Bathsheba.

Or kept Judas from betraying Jesus, and Peter from denying Christ.

I’m sure you can think of other accounts.

Then of course, there is us.

What about when we’re tempted to gossip, tell that little white lie, be critical, judgmental, prideful, jealous?

Or when we strike out in anger, are unkind, betray another, look with lust, spew vile hatred, do something we know is wrong to save face?

But you know what? We aren’t defenseless. Far from it.

Although we don’t have a robot warning us when the Tempter lurks, and he for sure doesn’t wear a bell around his neck, we have something much greater.

Those of us who belong to Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in us. He prompts us to do good. To turn from evil, and tells us which direction we should go.

We also have the Armor of God.

As with anything which warns when danger is on the prowl, it does no good if we choose to ignore it.

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Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan.  For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.

 So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.

But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval.  Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God.  In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.   And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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