Who fills your cup?

Who fills my cup, who satisfies me? These question are important for all of us as Christians to answer. embarrassingly so, many times I want my cup filled by others, I seek the approval of others or believe the lie that things or circumstances will satisfy me. Years ago while I was in Seminary, I just wanted to get married. In my own thinking I was convinced this would be what would satisfy me, then I wanted to have a baby, next I wanted to have a home of our own. Finally when I had the husband, the children and the pretty house, I thought yes, surely now I will be satisfied. Yet, it still would at times seem something was missing. As a child I had always dreamed of living in a far away land, telling others of Jesus. However, here I sit half way around the world and it hit me the other day I’m still not satisfied. That something was still missing. As I thought and prayed over this, I realized how wrong I have been to seek my satisfaction in things, people and places. The truth is I could have a house in Florida and one in Colorado and have all the stuff money could buy and still have an empty cup.

Why? Because the only One who can satisfy, the only One who can fill my cup to overflowing is Jesus. The truth is things break and people will let me down. Once a goal is achieved there is another to fulfill. It is an endless cycle I believe so many are caught up in. This summer when our family was in the Philippines I saw people who had nothing and many who didn’t know where there next meal would come from. Yet many of these same people had a joy unexplainable. A joy found only in the Lord. I left thinking wow, but many of these people had nothing but the Lord.

How easy it is to get caught up in this world, in things, and jobs. How easy to become focused upon what tomorrow holds. How difficult to live each day enjoying the Lord right then and now. In Psalm 27:4 we find one who understood this truth. David says,  “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.”  Do we really seek Him like this, if we could only ask one thing of the Lord, would it be to dwell in His presence?

John Piper said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” It brings the Lord glory for us to be satisfied in Him. It pleases Him most when we are content with where He has us and in what He has given us. Yet, the opposite is true as well. When we seek satisfaction from others/things we do not glorify Him. When we are not content in what He has given us or where He has us, He is not pleased.

The most joyful person is the one like Paul who has learned to be content no matter what. The one who has sought the Lord and found Him. The one who rest in His presence and trust in His Name. Jesus is the only One who can satisfy, the only One who can fill your cup. Let us find our satisfaction in HIM and in living for HIM.

Answered Prayers

For the past few months in our home Bible study group, we have been studying the book of James. This past Thursday we completed our study with chapter 5. Now, I have read James and pulled out certain Scripture verses many times, but when you take the time to dig and study it in light of the context, so many truths are unveiled.

As we came across James 5:16, the Lord opened my eyes to a truth I had never seen before concerning prayer. The Bible says, “Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James then goes on to give an example of one who was righteous and who prayed and saw God do mighty things, Elijah. Now often we think of Elijah as this super hero of the faith, but if you look at verse 17, it says, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours….” He wasn’t some hero, he was just a normal person like you and me. Yet, when he prayed he saw God do great things, why? Was it because of who he was or was it because he was right with God? I believe the reason Elijah saw God move in such a mighty way is because he had done what verse 16 said. He was clean before the Lord and before men. During the time Elijah sat at the brook, I believe he was praying for the people of Israel, so he was praying for others, and last his prayer was effective because he was persistent, he fervently prayed and didn’t give up.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I often grow frustrated with prayer. Yet, I am realizing that the reason I am frustrated and not seeing God work is because to be honest my prayers are not effective. Now, I’m not suggesting some 5 step formula to see prayers answered. Yet, I do believe there are things that must be in place in order for our prayers to be heard and to see God move.

I know for myself, my prayers are often shallow and flippant. I pray for something for a time but then give up. Or I pray but don’t first pray like David prayed for God to search my heart. Selfishly, I too often spend more time praying for myself than for others. As my husband taught through these verses the other night, God just rocked my world concerning how pathetic my prayers actually are.

I believe prayer that pleases the Lord starts with praising and exalting Him for who He is. If you read the Psalms you will find examples of this in David’s prayers. Many a Psalm begins with, “O give thanks to the Lord, or Praise the Lord.” Next I believe we must allow the Lord to search our hearts and take the time to confess individually sins in our life.(Ps. 139:23). If there is one we need to confess our sins before, we need to do this as well. Next, we are to intercede for others and the needs around us. Finally, we are to present our request before the Lord. And just as the widow who came before the judge asking and asking for his help, we must be persistent. Praying fervently not giving up until the Lord answers or says no.

I will close with this Ps. 24:3-5, “Who may ascend into the hill of the lord? Or who may stand in His Holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, or sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessings from the Lord and righteousness from the God of His salvation.”

Living by grace through faith!

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.” Col. 2:6

One of my favorite letters of Paul is the letter written to the churches in Galatia. These guys had started off right but somewhere along the way, they had forgotten how they were saved and got caught up in the law of doing once more. Though they had been saved by grace through faith (“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith.” Eph.. 2:8) they were seeking to live the Christian life in their own strength, with their own effort. Living as if keeping their salvation depended upon their works. Though they had been set free from the yoke of slavery, they had put this yoke back upon their necks. Paul says in Gal. 5:1 that this should not be. He says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” 

Now, one of the reasons I like this letter so much is because it seems I have the same trouble these Galatians had. I have been saved by grace through faith and yet instead of living by grace through faith, I often find myself with the yoke of slavery upon my neck. As I am trying to live this Christian life in my own strength and striving to dot all my i’s and cross all my t’s to keep the law. I become weighed down with a burden I was never intended to carry. I become discouraged thinking it is just too hard to live for Christ. I want to give up because it seems I’m constantly failing.

When I find myself in such places, I often read Galatians and am reminded once more that in order to walk this Christian walk, I must walk by grace through faith. This is a constant theme through out all of Paul’s letters. Why, because it is so important. For it is impossible to be a Christian in our own power. It is impossible to love our enemies in our own strength. It is impossible to be a witness for Christ apart from His help. And just as we are not saved by our own works, we are not to continue our Christian pilgrimage with our own works.

The person who seeks to walk the narrow road apart from the grace of God and apart from faith in Him, is a very miserable person. Believe me, I know. Yet, what freedom is found when we walk by grace through faith. When we fully grasp what Paul said in Gal. 2:20-21, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of Godfor if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Jesus did not die for nothing, He died for our sins and to set us free from the law. He died that we might have freedom in Him. Let us then walk in the freedom we find through His blood.

Just passing through…….

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. Hebrews 11:13

Today while I was riding the bus down to Nampodong to do some shopping, I spent some time looking out the windows at the passing scenery. As I looked out, everywhere I looked I saw words in Korean, I saw Korean people, and on the bus I heard people speaking Korean. Obviously this is because I’m in Korea, but it reminded me that I’m not home. There are few things here in Busan that remind me of home, few smells that take me back to a past memory. Everywhere I look, everywhere I go things here are just different. As I thought about this I was reminded that just as I’m a foreigner here in Korea, I am a foreigner on this earth. Whether I’m in Korea or America I’m not home yet!

Even as Christians it is easy to forget that this is not our home. Easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Easy to accumulate stuff that we can’t take with us. Easy to live for now and for ourselves instead of living for Heaven and for God.  I John 2:15-17 says, Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. According to these Scriptures we are not to love this world or anything in it, in fact we are told not to love this world.

In Hebrews 11, the author is speaking of all those listed in the Hall of Faith, that had lived on this earth as Sojourners, they were living not for then, but for the day of the Lord. They knew they were strangers on this earth, they knew this was only part of the journey, a journey that would eventually lead them to their true HOME. These men and women of faith had not lost focus of the Lord and were seeking to live for Him.

We have lived in Korea less than 2 years now and already we have accumulated more stuff, stuff that matters not, stuff that we will have to sale or give away. The longer I live, the more I realize that life is so much more than the accumulation of things. In Mathew 6:19-21 the Bible says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Just as when we leave Korea we will not be able to take everything with us, when we leave this earth we will take nothing.

So then how should we live? I believe we must seek not to get too comfortable, not to love the things of this world, not to store up treasures on this earth. We must not forget that we are strangers here. Instead we must strive to live in such a way that those of this world know we don’t belong here. We must not get caught up in the daily grind and forget why God has saved us. Finally, we must focus on storing up treasure in Heaven, treasures that will not pass away.

Indeed I’m a foreigner here in Korea, I stand out because I look different, I talk different and do things differently than Koreans. Yet, today I was reminded that I’m a foreigner on this earth as well. Therefore, I too should look different, speak different and do things different from those of this world. For this is not my home, I’m just passing through!

Learning to “Be Still”

If you have been around our little girl Lauren for any length of time, then you know that she is never still. She is a big ball of energy who hops, jumps, flips and moves every moment of the day. The concept “be still” is not really a part of her vocabulary. Yet, she has and continues to learn that there are times and places this is a must.  I’ve come to realize she must get this from me. Though I don’t have to be moving about all day and can certainly sit still, when it comes to my walk with the Lord, being still, is a definite challenge.

All throughout the Scriptures, we come across verse after verse that instructs us to “wait on the Lord and trust in the Lord.” Psalm 46:10 says it this way, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” At numerous points in my walk with the Lord, He has sought to teach me what this means. Even now, He is teaching me this concept. You see when everything is going good it is pretty easy to be still and know He is God. Yet, when challenges arise, when decisions need to be made, when you just grow impatient in the wait, it becomes quite difficult to be still. Like Lauren, we want to get busy. We want to fix the problem, open the doors only God can, and hurry the Lord along.

I’m often reminded of the story of Sarai and Hagar at these times.  Sarai and Abraham had been promised by God they would have a son. Yet, years pass and Sarai still is unable to conceive a child. Finally tired of waiting she comes up with a plan. So she sends for Abram and tells him to take her servant Hagar and produce an heir through her. However, when her plan worked and Hagar conceived, she became insanely jealous and blamed Abram and Hagar for all her troubles (Genesis 15-16). Instead of waiting on God and trusting in Him, Sarai took matters into her own hands and came up with her own solution bringing about much pain and misery.

At this time our family it seems is at a crossroad, waiting on the Lord to show us what is next, what He wants us to do, where He wants us to go. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is for me to just “be still and know He is God.” I want to do something, anything to help. Yet, how crazy is that? Does God need my help? absolutely not! You see being still is only part of the equation, the other part is  “and know He is God.” He is God, He created the world in 6 days, He spoke the stars into existance. Does He know we stand at this crossroad? Has any of this taken Him by surprise? The answer is no! Just as God came to Hagar after Sarai had cast her out, God comes to us in the midst of these moments. So like Hagar we are reminded that He is the God who sees (Gen. 16:13). The Lord sees and knows where we are, He sees and knows what we need.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 the Lord says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  So, I could try to come up with a solution, I could seek to hurry God along, but I don’t want what I think is best, I don’t want what I think I need. I want His best, what He has for us. Yet, this means I must “be still and know He is God.” I must wait on Him and trust in Him. As I have said, this is no simple task, yet what peace floods my soul when the Lord enables me to be still, knowing He is God and He reminds me that He has it all under control!

Therefore, like Lauren, we all must learn to truly, “Be still.”

Seeking HIM

There is a great song we sing at church that has been around a long time, entitled “All in All.” The past few Sundays, we have been singing this at KFC so it has been stuck in my head all week. One of the lines that truly struck me this past week says, “Seeking you as a precious jewel, Lord to give up I’d be a fool, You are my all in all.” As I was singing this the other day and came upon this line, I thought to myself,do I really seek Him as a precious jewel? I read a book awhile ago about how they mine for rubies deep in the caves. It is dangerous work to dig for these jewels, there is the risk of the mine caving in, the risk of suffocation the further into the mine one goes and it is strenuous work to dig day after day and only find a few jewels. Yet, each day there are people who faithfully go and work in the mines seeking to find one of these precious stones.

The Lord says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart.” He doesn’t say, you might find Me, He says you will find Me! Unlike digging for precious jewels where on a good day you might find one, He has promised that if we seek Him, we will find Him. However, to find Him we must seek Him with all of our heart. So what does this mean? John Piper describes seeking God this way,”It is the conscience fixing or focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.”

Just as the miner has to go to the cave and he has to dig deep through the dirt and clay, we have to go to God’s Word and dig for the precious truths hidden throughout. The miner also has to get his hands dirty, just as he is on his knees searching to find these jewels, we too have to be serious about seeking the Lord. This means we deal with the ugly sin in our lives that separates us from Him, it means we spend time in prayer both speaking and being still in His presence.  It means we strive to obey His Word. Seeking the Lord means “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).” Seeking Him takes time and effort, it takes diligence and persistence.

When a miner comes across a precious jewel he is thrilled, he’s been working hard, digging deep and has finally found this hidden treasure. What excitement and joy he must feel. In the same way, when we seek the Lord with all our hearts, we will find Him and He will show us deep, wonderful truths we have never seen before. We will have an intimacy with the Lord we thought unattainable. Yes, seeking the Lord takes time and effort, but I believe with all my heart, it is well worth the effort!!

“Seeking you as a precious jewel, Lord to give up I’d be a fool, You are my all in all!” 

No Tears

There is a great movie entitled, “Love’s Enduring Promise,” by Janette Oak. In this movie she makes mention of a promise we have concerning Heaven. This film takes place back in the days of horses and buggies and days when one moved across country, it could take months to arrive and one might never see their family again. In the end she marries a guy who wants to go west to begin a ranch. As they are leaving and everyone is heartbroken, she reminds them of the promise and says, “no tears.”

This past week, I have been reminded of this great promise. The promise of Heaven where the Lord will wipe away all our tears, where we will never have to say goodbye to our friends or families and where most importantly we will never be separated from the Lord’s presence because of sin. Revelation 21:3-4 says, “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their god. And god will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

We live in a broken, sinful world, where pain exist, where troubles come and were we are separated from those we love. Yet, one day, one glorious day, this old, broken, sinful world will be wiped away and the Lord will make all things new! He will establish a new heaven and a new earth, where we will no longer need the sun nor the moon for the Lord’s glory will shine ever bright. It will be a most perfect place, a place sin can not enter, a place heartache is absent from, a place of joy, peace, and love.

Yet, even now as I write this, I can think of many I know who aren’t ready for this day. Those who now are walking in darkness, whose sins separate them from the Lord and the hope of Heaven. The Bible says, “Behold now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).”  Salvation is so much more than the promise of Heaven, it is so much more than believing Jesus died and rose again. It is a personal, intimate relationship with Abba Father, who adopts us into His family through the precious blood of Jesus (Romans 8:15).

The truth is one day, this old world will pass away and all that is in it. We who belong to Jesus not because of anything we have done, but because of His blood, will inherit the Kingdom of God. We will be apart of this new heaven and new earth were sickness, death, heartache and all problems can not enter. It will indeed be a wonderful day!

Yet, until then may we be faithful to tell the Good News of Jesus to those still walking in darkness and may we hang on to the hope we have in Jesus.

A mouth of praise or a mouth of complaints

I don’t know about you, but I know for me it is much easier to complain than it is to be thankful. I”m one of those who doesn’t see the glass half full, but half empty. This past week, the Lord has really been dealing with my heart on how I use my mouth. Do I use it to praise Him or to complain. Sadly to say, I know lately I have used my mouth to gripe about everything I don’t like instead of seeing the good and giving thanks! In James, he tells says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” Paul also tells us in Philippians 2:14 to , “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
Now here is the thing, I know what the Bible says, but knowing it and applying it are two different things. I know I’m to “Give thanks in all circumstances.” I Thes. 5:16 Yet, when I wake up late, my child spills milk all over the floor and the dog chews up the new couch all before noon, it is hard to find things to be thankful for and so much easier to complain and rage at everything that has gone wrong.  Yet we are told in everything to give thanks. The Lord is teaching me that when I’m quick to praise instead of complain I am seeing things through His eyes. The other day it was colder than cold and as I walked to the store I complained the whole way about how cold it was. Yet, later I was convicted about my negative attitude. For you see, yes, it was cold but at least it wasn’t raining. Instead of complaining about the cold, I should have been praising the Lord that it wasn’t raining and for the clear skies. It is all a matter of perspective. Will I see things through my own worldly vision or through the eyes of my Father.

In Psalms 141:3, David says, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord, keep watch over the doors of my lips.” Wow, what a prayer I need to put into practice, that the Lord would guard my mouth from complaining and watch over my lips that they would not be used to tear others down but only to build up and encourage.

I’m finding that when I praise Him, I have peace. When I praise Him,  I have joy, When I praise Him, my faith grows. I challenge you and myself this next week, to pray David’s prayer that the Lord would guard our mouths and keep watch over our lips, that we may use our mouths not to complain but to praise. For He is indeed worthy of our praise no matter what!!

God is Able

“But the more they were opressed, the more they multiplied and spread.” Exodus 1:12

Since the beginning of time Satan has sought to use different peoples to oppress God’s people. He has used Pharoah, Nero, Hitler, Mao, and continues to use numerous people today to oppress, silence and persecute those who proclaim Jesus. Yet, just as in the times of Pharoah, the more believers are oppressed, the more they are persecuted, the more the followers of Jesus grow. You can see this today in China, Iran, North Korea and other areas where the government has said no, you can’t worship Jesus. This is where God’s mighty power is displayed and underground churches prosper. A true believer can’t deny their Lord and Savior and will risk it all, even to the point of death to stand firm until the end. It is with a supernatural grace that they are able to stand and face the flames, the lions or gunpoint and sing praises unto the Lord. For they like Shadrach, Meshach and Abindigo have already determined, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it and He will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (Daniel 3:17).”

Putting this into perspective:

Most of us do not live where we are oppressed and persecuted for our faith. Yet, the enemy is crafty. For not only does he use oppression and persecution, he uses the everyday trials of life. His desire is to get us to give up on the Lord. To silence our testimony.  He can not take our salvation, so the next best thing is for him to get us to quit on God. Scripture tells us that we must, “fight the good fight, run the race set before us and to stand firm until the end (I Tim. 6:12, I Cor. 16:13, He. 12:1).” We must remember that the Lord is able to deliver us from whatever troubles that are set before us, but also we must come to the place of acceptance that says even if He doesn’t deliver us, He is worthy of our praise!

God is Able (Hillsong)

Lifted up
He defeated the grave
Raised to life
Our God is able
In His name
We overcome
For the Lord
Our God is able

God is with us
God is on our side
He will make a way
Far above all we know
Far above all we hope
He has done great things

God is with us
He will go before
He will never leave us
He will never leave us
God is for us
He has open arms
He will never fail us
He will never fail us

No matter the oppression, no matter the trial, God is able to deliver!!! How great and awesome He is!