Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Irrepressible Joy!

The Lord never ceases to amaze me. He is so faithful to His Word! I wonder sometimes why I have such a struggle to trust Him with every aspect of my life. He's never failed me. Time and time again, He has proved Himself so faithful!

I struggled with my emotions a fair amount this past week and a half as it was the 2nd anniversary of Dad's death, his funeral and another birthday of mine without him. I know that it's natural to grieve what we miss. It's healthy even. But all too often, what starts out as grieving my Dad turns into giving into a bunch of lies... "I'm all by myself now", "life is too hard", "no one understands"... the list goes on. The problem with a pity party is that I don't really want to tell myself the Truth and from there, each little, petty annoyance adds to my misery. This is where I found myself this past weekend. I was hurting.

Now, I know where to go when I'm hurting. I even wrote about it. The thing that took me awhile to figure out is that the Lord is much more patient than I am. He's the calm Father that waits for His child to finish her rant and finish shaking her fist at Him. I ran to the right place but with the wrong heart. Finally, I feel like the Lord said "are you finished?" Praise Him I was close enough to being done that I could listen to what He had to say.

He took me to Psalm 97. His timing is always perfect! It was the very next Psalm that I was due to read and it begins with the bold truth THE LORD REIGNS! I was reminded that He really does reign. It might be feeling like everything in the world is going wrong but the Truth is is that God IS on the throne and He IS in control. Everything that happens has to first be passed through His hands. He promises to work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him. He's got a purpose for us that is infinitely higher than we can imagine. The verse goes on to say that this is reason enough to rejoice and be glad! Okay, He had the attention of my head but what was He going to do with my heart?

In verse 11 there was the most irresistible promise... irrepressible joy! Now tell me one person who would not love to have irrepressible joy. I thought, "alright, Lord. What's the condition?" Here's what it said... there's "irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection." (Amplified Bible) I started to consider the favor of the Lord. I asked Him for eyes to see His blessings all around me. It would take me an hour to tell you the favor that I witnessed yesterday alone!

When we lift up our eyes to the Lord "from whence cometh my help" it will astonish You what He is up to all around you. If you don't believe me, just start keeping a list. Start with the obvious blessings and they will multiply from there - no matter what you're going through.

What was the result of my new and improved vision? Irrepressible joy! And praise the Lord - He's doing it again today!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Where Do You Go When You're Hurting?

I don't know what circumstances are surrounding you today. As I think of the circumstances of those around me, perhaps you have a child in hospital whose life has been hanging in the balance. Perhaps you have a crisis in your relationships. Maybe you have found yourself victimized by circumstances beyond your control. Perhaps you are grieving. Whatever the situation may be, if you are not the one hurting, I can guarantee you know someone who is. Where do you go when you're hurting?

It occurs to me that I have spent my entire life surrounded by a belief in God. He has just always "been" for me. I take for granted in much of the things that I write that God has "been" for you too. But it is not enough to simply believe that God exists. The Bible says that even the demons believe and shudder. There came a point for me when I realized that despite the fact that I believed God existed, there was a separation between us. Something was missing and I needed it to be made right.

God says, "Come to Me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) "But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in Him; and before they can believe in Him, they must hear about Him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them... So faith comes from hearing the Good News, and people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ." (Romans 10:14, 17)

Here's the really Good News...

"The Good News shows how God makes people right with Himself - that it begins and ends with faith..." (Romans 1:17)

"As the Scriptures say: 'There is no one who always does what is right, not even one." (Romans 3:10)

"no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin. But God has a way to make people right with Him without the law, and He has now shown us that way... God makes people right with Himself through their faith in Jesus Christ... Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ. God sent Him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus' death..." (Romans 3:20-25)

"The payment for sin is death. But God gives us the free gift of life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"When we were unable to help ourselves, at the right time, Christ died for us, although we were living against God... But God shows His great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:6, 8)

"That is the teaching of faith that we are telling. If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disappointed.'" (Romans 10:8-11)

"Christ carried our sins in His body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of His wounds. You were like sheep that wandered away, but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24, 25)

So what do you say then? Are you tired? Is your burden heavy? Are you hurting? Is something missing? Are you ready to reach out in faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it." God asks each of us to begin our journey with a single step of faith. An acceptance of the gift that He is extending. What do you choose?

Dear Lord,

Thank You that You hear and answer everyone who calls out to You. You know the intention of those who are praying these words with me. Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God. You died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. No matter how hard I try, Jesus, I can't fix my separation from God - but You can. Thank You that right now, You are alive and sitting at the Father's right hand, claiming me as Your own. I'm choosing to take a step of faith now, Jesus. I accept Your gift of life - real life. Be my Lord.

"Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. Remember, O LORD, Your great mercy and love, for they are from old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me, for You are good, O LORD." (Psalm 25:4-7)


If you have just joined me in the journey of a lifetime, I welcome you. Jesus said, "there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10) May I rejoice with you too? Please leave me a comment and we'll be praising His Name together!

Friday, August 17, 2007

My Savior, My God

I've had this song playing over and over again in my heart these last few days. It is so true. I thought I would share...

I am not skilled to understand
what God has willed, what God has planned.
I only know at His right hand
stands One who is my Savior.
I take Him at His Word and see...
Christ died to save me, this I read,
and in my heart I find the need
of Him to be my Savior.
That He would leave His place on high
and come for sinful man to die.
You got estranged? So once did I...
before I knew my Savior.

My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be.
My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be!

Yes, living, dying let me drink
my strength, my solace from the spring...
That He who lives to be my King
once died to be my Savior.
That He would leave His place on high
and come for sinful man to die.
You got estranged? So once did I
before I knew my Savior.

My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be...
My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be!
My Savior loves!
My Savior lives!
My Savior loves!
My Savior lives!

by Aaron Shust (WOW Hits 2007)

How wonderful, hard to imagine, that the God who formed the universe would give His one and only Son to die for me... but He did! I can't explain the freedom there is in Christ. I can't believe the transformation He has made in me. But I am so very thankful! Lord Jesus, I am in awe of You and Your priceless gift! May I live and breathe to praise Your Name!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Are You Ready?

Today is August 12th. It was two years ago today that my Dad died. As I sat in my spot this morning, I felt like the Lord asked me if I was ready... Ready to die, Lord? Ready to go Home... My Dad's physical body died on August 12th, 2005 but he is more alive today than he has ever been! Dad was ready! Dad was a good man but the facts are that you can never be good enough to enter heaven on your own merit. We all fall so desperately short. But Dad also knew that God sent His only Son to remedy that. Jesus lived the sinless life we could never live. He laid down His life to pay the penalty for our sins. He rose to life again as Victor over death and Dad welcomed that pardon.

So how did I answer the Lord this morning? Am I ready? Yes. I'm ready. There were a number of sins that I laid before the Lord this morning... and there will undoubtedly be a number more tomorrow but He forgives me! I've admitted my own insufficiency and accepted His merciful pardon! From my gratitude, I will try my best to honor the One who pardoned me but the pressure is off! He knows I am but a child and He's adopted me as His own.

Dad went home that day! To his "mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we'll never grow old". Someday, I will too. And I know I will be received in. Am I worthy? No way, but I've embraced the One who is and someday I'm going HOME.

What about you? Are you ready?

In My Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you: for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And where I am going, you know the way. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me."

John 14:2-6

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Prayer of Moses (Psalm 90)

LORD, may I learn from the prayer of Moses this morning (Psalm 90). You allow him to be known as the man of God. O, how I want to be recognized as one who belongs to You - one with whom You fellowship. You really are the place of refuge for Your people throughout all generations, LORD. No matter what goes on around me, when my heart and mind dwell in You I am saved. Thank You that You always were and You always will be. You are unchanging and so with You I will always have a place of refuge.

I consider the years that I spent wandering in the wilderness. I was troubled, overwhelmed and frightened. LORD, that's what comes when we allow the circumstances of life to become giants and fail to remember the awesome faithfulness of our Almighty God. You have to discipline us - it's the loving thing to do. How will I ever learn if I don't feel the consequences of my sin? When I am troubled, overwhelmed or frightened, O LORD, please cause me to stop and listen to Your voice so that You can reveal where I've allowed sin a foothold.

LORD, I am so thankful that You know our "secret heart" and its sins. You know my folly, O God. My guilt is not hidden from You (Ps. 69:5). You have declared that even when I was lost in my sin, You loved me so much that You sent Your only Son to die for me so that I could live reconciled to You. So I know I can be completely honest with You for nothing I confess comes as a shock to You. Search me thoroughly, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139:23-24) because though I might struggle to let go, no pattern of thought or desire of the heart is worth roaming the wilderness for. I have tasted the sweet abundance of Your Promised Land and I don't want to roam anymore.

LORD, teach me to number my days. Help me to remember that life is short so that I don't waste them. I want to seek out Your heart of Wisdom. LORD, You do satisfy me in the mornings with Your mercy and loving-kindness. You make my heart rejoice and be glad! What a tremendous gift! Please LORD, may I never be content to sit outside Your Presence and learn "about" You. May I always allow You full access and spend time "with" You.

LORD, Moses asked that You would make them glad in proportion to the days in which You had afflicted them and the years that they had suffered evil. As I consider that this morning, I want way more days of gladness than those that I was afflicted. Although when in the midst of the turmoil and trial it looked like it was endless, it really was light and momentary when compared to the suffering Christ went through for me. Praise You, O LORD, that it was short-lived and that You have redeemed me from that oppression and You have set me free.

Let Your work, the signs of Your power, be revealed in me and Your glorious majesty to my children. And let Your beauty and delightfulness and favor be upon us. Even confirm and establish the work of our hands for I desire to bear much fruit. May it never be in pride and only to bring You glory.

So be it. Amen.