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January 2022

Nudgings #11 - Frustrating

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Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. … Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:14, 23 NLT)

When it comes to Christmas, Father’s Day and my birthday I am a blessed man. My wife and kids are great, they always give me thoughtful and wonderful gifts and I so appreciate their generosity and care for me. But every time a gift giving celebration rolls around I always tell my family that I don’t want or need a gift—"they" are the gift. This frustrates them, but honestly, my joy comes from our relationship together—our conversations, shared experiences, laughter, trust and love that spans time and distance. Those are the things that capture my heart.

In Psalm 50 I see that I might be frustrating God too.

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and all of creation to boot, and I come to Him with my “gifts” of effort, striving, trying and doing and all He wants is for me to be thankful and obedient. In every season, celebration, and in all the moments of my life, God wants one thing—my heart.

(read Psalm 50:1-23)


Nudgings #10 - God Gives, I Steward

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John the Baptist said, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.” (Jn. 3:27, NLT)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. (James 1:17, NIV)

Today I pray:

Dear Father,
Thank you for loving me and giving me the gift of another day.
Help me to remember that it isn’t about me, it’s about Jesus in me.
God gives, I steward. May it be so in my life.
Jesus, give me your holiness. Use me for your glory.
Amen.


Nudgings #9 - Glory

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Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18) …
Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“The Lord! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” (Exodus 34:5-6, NIV)

This passage from Exodus about God’s “glory” makes me think of the scene in the Disney movie, “Aladdin” (1992) where the big blue genie describes himself as having “phenomenal cosmic powers.” (I heard you say that in a deep, booming voice.)

The genie’s self-description aptly depicts the way that “glory” is communicated throughout history, and even in our present-day sports, entertainment, financial, business and political contexts.

However, the almighty God—the creator of the universe, the beginning and the end, the perfect, transcendent, all-powerful one—expresses and “shows” Moses (and you and me) His glory in a very different and surprising way.

God’s glory is that He is: compassionate, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love, ever-faithful, and forgiving to a thousand generations.

If you think that sounds a lot like Jesus, the one who was crucified on the cross for the sins of the world, it’s because it is. God’s glory is Jesus, and Jesus loves you and me!

“Wow.” (I heard you say that in a hushed, grateful, amazed voice.)

(Hebrews 1:3, John 3:16, John 14:9, Matthew 11:29)


Nudgings #8 - Pray

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God’s there, listening for all who pray,
for all who pray and mean it.
He does what’s best for those who fear him—
hears them call out, and saves them. (Psalm 145:18-19, MSG)

Do you need help? … A life preserver amidst the wreckage? Wisdom for the moment? Peace in the storm? Strength for the next step? A light in the darkness? Forgiveness for failure? Love?
Ask. Seek. Knock. … Pray.

(Matthew 7:7-12, Revelation 3:20, John 3:16)


Nudgings #7 - Stuck to Awestruck

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When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! (Luke 5:4-6, NLT) …
He was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. (Luke 5:9, NLT)

Simon was a fisherman. He had been out fishing all night. He was exhausted and he knew his trade—there were no fish. Jesus was a carpenter and he told Simon to try it again, a little differently though.
He said, “Go out where it is deeper.“ So they did, and what happened next left Simon, and everyone with him, awestruck.

Are you stuck in your “been there done that,” “same old same old,” “nothing’s going to change” mentality? Is this New Year already starting to look a lot like the old year? Jesus is calling you to a deeper and more abundant place in Him. We need to listen to what He says and obey . . . “if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
Read the Word of God, call out to Jesus in prayer and then do what He says. Go from being stuck to awestruck.


Nudgings #6 - Do and Go

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Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:6, MSG)

Before I “do” and “go” I pray:

Jesus, I need you today. I don’t want to do and go it alone. May I be “quick to listen” for your voice, remember that you are with me “always,” and “follow” your way in my thoughts, words and actions. Amen.

(James 1:19, Matthew 28:20, Matthew 16:24)


Nudgings #5 - Really Living

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The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives. (Romans 1:17, MSG)

If you are reading these words you are existing, but are you “really living”? The man named “legion” existed. The woman at the well existed. The man born blind existed. The woman caught in adultery existed. Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector existed. The woman who bled for twelve years existed. The thief on the cross existed.

But then Jesus came, and they went from existing to really living. How?

“ . . . by trusting Him.”

(Mark 5:1-20, John 4:1-42, John 9, John 8:1-11, Luke 19:1-10, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 23:39-43, John 14:1-3)


Nudgings #4 - Wake Up

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God calling yet; shall I not hear?
Earth’s pleasures, shall I still hold dear?
Shall life’s swift passing years all fly,
And still my soul in slumber lie?
    — Gerhard Tersteegen (1697 – 1769)

Tersteegen wrote those words nearly 300 years ago, and yet they apply to my heart today. I guess time and life “flew” back then too. Can you believe it’s 2022?

Whenever I reflect on “life’s swift passing years,” I don’t think about all the shows on Netflix, the constant drone of the news cycle, the “likes” I received on Facebook, or the 96 times a day I check my smartphone. (I might as well be sleeping for all that’s worth.)

Rather, I think about fun times, hearty laughter, the beauty of nature, the gift of dogs and cats (pets), the blessings of friendship, tears of joy, help given, kindnesses received, love expressed and the goodness of God in it all.

As we near the end of this first week of the New Year, let us remember that “times flies, and so do we” (David Roper). God is calling! Wake up from your slumber, look to the light of Jesus in your life and make every moment meaningful in Him.

“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:14-17, NLT)


Nudgings #3 - Life

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Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing. (Matthew 3:8-9, NLT)
John the Baptist was talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now he’s talking to me. He’s saying, “What matters is your life—now.” Looking back to last year or yesterday may offer wisdom, understanding, shame or regret, but the future (the next five minutes of this new year) is where God is leading.
 
“What counts is [my] life,” not my resume, my bank account, my looks, my weight, my social media followers, my home, my possessions, my gender, my race, my experiences, my heritage, my degrees, my opinions, my failures, or my successes.
 
“My life,” . . . my moments, right now, the next five minutes are where God resides and beckons. Where am I looking? In what am I trusting? To what end am I living? What am I doing, or not doing? Who or what has my attention?
If you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. (Colossians 3:1-3, MSG)

Nudgings #2 - Barren

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[The angel said unto Mary] … behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:36-37, ESV)

“Barren,” such a harsh and painful word . . . void of life, an empty place, a deep ache, an unutterable longing.

Does that describe you at this start of 2022? I hope not, but if it does, take heart. God says, “Behold,” . . . I am bigger than that!

Just ask Sarah, Rebecca, Hannah and Elizabeth—all were barren until God moved, and out of their barrenness God gave us Isaac, Jacob, Samuel and ultimately, John the Baptist—the prophet who foretold the coming of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Take heart! God is still moving in 2022!

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert [the barrenness]. (Isaiah 43:19, ESV)

Look to Jesus. He came to give us abundant life, now and forevermore. Call upon His name, start your day and this New Year with Jesus, and He will do a new thing in your heart and life, “for nothing is impossible with God!”