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5 posts from September 2009

September 30, 2009

What do you Fear?


Greetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share an insight, comment, or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

I decided from here on in, to announce the winner on the last Wednesday of each month (instead of on the first Wednesday of the new month). The winner for the month of September is: Kathy Schwanke! Congratulations, Kathy! And thank you for contributing so much to this blog. I really appreciate it. To claim your gift card, just email me at: info@susielarson.com and leave your mailing address. I'll get it in the mail next week. 

Now, on to my topic...

I've spent the past two weekends up at beautiful Covenant Pines Bible Camp, speaking at women's retreats. I tried something new on the women. I told them to come to Saturday night's session on, "The Fear of the Lord" in comfortable clothes and armed with their Bibles, notebooks, pillow, and blanket. My  plan was for them to 'camp' in the presence of the Lord. 

Using Hebrews chapter 12 along with a few other passages of Scripture, I taught for ten minutes, then I stepped away from the podium and put on about ten minutes of beautiful music and gave the women journal and prayer assignments (all the while, Power Point slides rotated different 'fear of the Lord Scripture' against an ocean background). After ten minutes of journal and prayer, I stepped up again and taught for ten minutes, followed by another ten minutes of music and reflection. We did this for a full hour. I talked about humility, teachability, the discipline of the Lord, what it means to honor Him, and Who it is we come to when we come to Him.

We spent an hour re-setting our spiritual lives; humbling ourselves; remembering again how mighty this God is that we serve. When I looked around the room, I saw a beautiful combination of reverence for the Lord and a comfort in His presence. Not casual in His presence. But comfortable with the idea of His love, His mercy, and His forgiveness. Not because we deserve it, but because He offers it. 

We need moments like this. Lots more of them. 

When we run to and fro in our busy lives, we so easily default to fears that are not ours to embrace. We fear other's opinions; the stock market; the unknown; the loyalty of friends; ourselves. 

One of my favorite verses is this one:

Do not fear ANYTHING except the Lord Almighty; for HE ALONE is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe (Isaiah 8:13). 

When we say things we shouldn't say, and we fear getting caught more than we fear dishonoring our God, it's time to re-set, and remember to Whom we are ultimately accountable. 

When we give more weight to man's words than God's Word, it's time to re-set, and remember that no words can diminish us if God's Word is strong in us.

When we pay more attention to the economy than to how the Holy Spirit is moving around us, it's time to re-set and remember that we are not made for this place. We are just passing through. We serve a Living God and His economy is strong indeed. 

When we acquaint ourselves more with our circumstances than our identity in Christ, it's time to re-set and remember once again who we are, and whose we are. We are His. And everything He has is ours. We have more than enough to live abundantly today.

If we're bent on fear, may ours be a fear of the Lord. May we know in our core of our potential to squander time, embrace selfishness, and overlook the suffering. And in light of our earthbound ways, may we walk ever closer to Him and fully trust Him in these trying times. He is Lord. We are on the winning side.

Until next week~

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September 23, 2009

Close to the Source...


Greetings, Friends!

Susie Larson here...

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share an insight or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend. Next week I'll announce the winner for September.

Now on to my topic:

One day, many years ago, my son Luke came home from school and spouted, "This really mean boy called me a really mean name!" I paused what I was doing and turned around to look at Luke's face. "What did he call you?" I asked. Luke put his hands on his hips, wrinkled his brow and said, "He called me Luke warm water!" 

I chuckled under my breath and said, "I'm sorry he hurt your feelings, honey, but if that's the worst thing he can come up with to insult you, you're doing pretty well!" That obviously wasn't the right thing to say because Luke came right back with, "Mom! Who likes luke-warm water? Nobody! What's it good for? Nothing!" 

We had a good follow up conversation that day. And Luke made a very good point. Luke-warm water isn't good for much

Recently I pondered the following verses from Revelations:

 "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth! (Revelations 3:15-16)

Such strong words to the church in Laodicea! They begged me to dig a little deeper. I learned that in Laodicea, there was a marvelous cold spring that drew crowds from other cities. Imagine, fresh water, invigorating for one and all! 

Likewise, in the city of Colosse, there was a hot spring, which, also drew visitors from surrounding cities. An innovative group of engineers decided to build a system that could send the hot water from the city of Colosse to Laodicea. You can imagine the time and resources that went into such a project. Unfortunately, by the time the water reached Laodicea, it was luke-warm and tasted terrible. Project failed.  Hmmm.

If you wanted to enjoy the hot springs, you had to go to the source. 

When we live far away from the fiery hot passion of God's love and heart for the world, our passions and convictions wane. 

The Greek word for 'lukewarm' in the verse from Revelations is, "Chliaros" which is a metaphorical condition of the soul: A fluctuation between laziness, inertia etc., and earnest zeal and love. The lukewarm 'Believer', depending on the season, will either be 'all in' and passionate when it comes to following Christ, or they will step out of the race and put their passions into other things.

Makes me think of this passage from the New Testament:

For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again. We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes (1 Peter 1:16).

Jesus calls us to a close, moment-by-moment, vested relationship with Him. He is the Source of life and of living water.  We must not be content with second hand information or loose associations with Christianity. My pastor once said that the sheep that wandered to the outer edges of the flock were always the ones picked off by the wolves first. 

Here I am referring back to Hebrews chapter 12 again (as I have the past couple of weeks), but may we heed this wise advice:

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let's RUN the race marked out before us! Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him (US), endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Jesus is the oxygen of life; He's the living water for our thirst; He's our true north; He's the rock beneath our feet; He's the shelter that covers us; and He's the one who SAVES. There's no other name, no other source, no other passion, no hobby, and no accomplishment that can compete with Him! 

While we still have today, let's run the race to win.

Have a blessed week~

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September 16, 2009

Turning the Tables...


Greetings, Friends! Happy Wednesday!

And to those visiting, I say welcome!

I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month's card comes from Starbucks. Share an insight or a story, bless lots of people, and just maybe, you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

Now on to my topic...

As you can probably tell from last week's post, I've been spending some time in Hebrews 12 recently. To me, it's such a picture of who we are in light of who God is. 

Today I want to focus on three simple words in verse 2, which reminds me once again that no power, no insight, no scheme can prevail against the living God! (See Proverbs 21:30).

Here are the three words: scorning its shame...

For clarification purposes, here is the full verse:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. 

Jesus endured horrific suffering, assault, accusation, pain and despair for the JOY set before Him. We were that joy. The very idea of you and me compelled Christ to endure unimaginable pain because for Him, the prize of us, was worth the price He paid. Amazing.

Crucifixion was meant to be horrific and humiliating. The criminal's death on the cross was meant to be a public display of his shame and his deserved suffering. It was the worst kind of death in ways too many to count. 

Jesus went there for us. 

He submitted himself to the worst kind of suffering, public humiliation, and death. He let people think that He was deserving of such a death. And in that very place, He triumphed. 

He blew the doors off of death, He had a face-off with our enemy, grabbed back the keys to the chains that had legal right to hold us captive, He defeated death, took away its sting, and when He finished His work, He sat down next to His Father in Heaven. 

He took the shame of the cross and scorned it! He made a public spectacle of the very thing that was supposed to make a public spectacle of Him! 

How is the enemy coming against you right now? In what ways do you feel vulnerable, exposed, ashamed, or self-aware?

You can triumph there because Jesus triumphed on the cross. 

Everywhere we go and every circumstance we endure, we can do so with victory, with assurance, and with holy confidence. We can know that we will triumph amidst our circumstances and rule in the midst of our enemies because Jesus has secured the victory for us. 

In whatever way the devil has come against you, do know that God has made provision to turn those tables and bring victory there. Where once there was confusion, He wants to bring clarity. Where once there was vulnerability, He wants to bring protection and assurance. Where once there was insecurity, He wants to bring identity, boldness, and holy confidence. 

Picture it. Imagine those tables turning and rise up in faith! Get your marching orders from the Lord. Stay close to His heart. Do what He says. Humble yourself before and let Him deal with your sin and missteps (because He disciplines those He loves). But know in the midst of it all, you will not be defeated, final victory is secured, because you belong to HIM! 

His victory is YOUR victory.

Have a blessed week!

Next issue comes out in October!

September 09, 2009

The Mountain of God...

Mountain of the Lord

Greetings, Everyone!

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month's card comes from Starbucks, so share a story or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

Before I get into my topic, I have a quick question for you. As most of you know, I've been doing this weekly blog for some time now. Recently I've been advised that I should blog more often. What do you think? Would you rather see a shorter devotional thought or insight a few times a week, or keep things the way they are? I really want to hear from you!

Okay, now on to my topic...

Do you have a few weeds in your yard? Aren't the little ones easy to ignore sometimes? Even if we keep a close watch on our lawn, those nasty buggers pop up and diminish the overall health of the lawn. Our hearts are the same way. Unless we keep short accounts with sin and we regularly bring ourselves before the Lord in humility and repentance, weeds WILL spring up in our lives. 

As we go through life, it's easy to develop a bit of an attitude towards this person, or a judgment about that situation, or an un-forgiving heart towards someone who has hurt you. These feelings come in different shapes and sizes and some are easy to ignore. But the enemy watches us, studies us, even. And he knows how to leverage our sins and weaknesses against us. 

The Bible says that the pure in heart see God. Embracing a pure heart before the Lord is our immunity against the attacks and schemes of the devil. We must take seriously our call to regularly pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts, and point out ANYTHING in me that offends You! (Psalm 139). 

And when God answers that prayer, may we humbly bow, repent, and respond to His voice. 

Have you ever tried to gently tell someone how they hurt you only to have them fall into a heap and become a victim of the confrontation? And instead of responding to you in maturity, you have to pick them up off the floor because they can't handle confrontation?

Or, have you tried to address someone who hurt you only to have them stiffen up, tell you that you shouldn't feel that way, and then walk away as if your feelings don't matter? 

Obviously, neither of those responses are healthy or mature. But don't we do the same thing to God sometimes? If He tells us what we don't want to hear, we stiffen up and get busy doing something else. Or if He points out our missteps and holds us accountable, we may fall into a heap of condemnation and completely miss His point. I know I've done that a time or two. :)

What's the healthy response?

Let's read from Hebrews 12:4-6

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

In other words, don't shrug off His discipline like it doesn't matter, but don't despair because of it either. Humbly bow before Him in repentance, and than rise up to meet Him because He loves you. Be teachable. Refuse a hard heart. Reject condemnation. Embrace His love.

What's the payoff? 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (v.11).

A harvest of righteousness and peace await us on the other side of God's dealings with us!

Read all of Hebrews 12 today if you get the chance. It's a powerful chapter. The call is to throw off every useless weight AND the sin that so easily entangles us and to run the race marked out before us. The call is to embrace the Lord's discipline as He brings it, because He disciplines those He loves, and He is training us to reign. And finally, this chapter reminds us of who it is we're speaking to, living before, and approaching when we come to Him:

You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,  to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,  to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire" (v. 22-29).

Our God is a consuming fire. May we live with Eternity in mind. 

Sorry this is such a long post but I believe this is a word for many of us today.

Have a great week~

September 01, 2009

How Far...


Greetings, Dear Friends!

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. 

Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share an insight or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! It's time to announce the winner for August. Drum roll please...

Liz (don't have a last name but you comment on 8/10/09)! Congratulations! To claim your prize, just email me at: info@susielarson.com with your mailing address. A little side note: you have to claim your prize before I announce next month's winner! Be blessed.

Now on to my topic...

I've been working especially hard in the past several months. I've been stretched and strained and strengthened, all at the same time. Even here, God has been especially present.

I want to take just a few minutes to explore three things:

1.) How far Jesus went to save us

2.) How far He has removed our transgressions from us

3.) And how far we will follow Him, especially when parts of us have to die in the process

I think we all know how far Jesus went to save us. But let's pause for a moment today and ponder this priceless gift. Before we knew the depth of our offense, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Whenever I take communion, I can't help but think about Jesus at the last supper. Was He trembling on the inside at the thought of the road ahead? Was He most concerned about the pain and disillusionment His disciples would endure when they saw Him on the cross? While He walked this earth, He felt our feelings, and endured our struggles. When the time came, when He fell to the ground, a bloody mess, He could have said one word and the angels would have rescued Him, which would have changed everything for us. But He was silent. He would not allow Himself to be rescued. He didn't draw all kinds of personal boundaries because of past offenses. He took it all. All for love. He went the distance for you and me. We were on His mind. Amazing love.

Regarding our sins, the Bible says that He has removed our transgressions from us. As far as the East is form the West, so far has He removed our sins from us! Is it possible to travel so far East that when you get there, you're actually in the West? Doesn't matter. East will always be East of West. Never the two shall meet. For every redeemed person, that's how far your sin is away from you. You're in one place, your sin in another. Pause today, and consider this: you are not the sum of your flaws. You are not your track record. You are someone God loves. Fresh start. New day. Wonderful Mercies. All offered to you this day. Walk in the fullness of God today. Let's never take such a gift for granted!

In light of this great love, can I ask you a question? How far will you go for Him? Is He calling you to take a road less traveled? To revisit an old painful memory? To humble yourself and forgive? To walk away from anger and bitterness? Will you follow Him? I pray that you will.

He will never lead us astray. He's always good. He is the Redeemer, after all.

Have a blessed week.

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