Friday, October 26, 2012

Action! It's More Than Wishful Thinking!

The LORD knows me so well.  This morning He brought me back to a lesson that He taught me earlier this year through a scripture that I have read many times before.  It is a wonderful prayer of David - steeped in hope - and full of truths!  And nestled within familiar words is a profound reminder and challenge to me...
I will call upon You, for You will answer me, O God; incline Your ear to me; hear my words.  Wondrously show Your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at Your right hand.  (Psalm 17:6-7 ESV, emphasis mine)

Seek refuge!  How often have I read this passage and others like it and missed the implication of the word "seek"?  Seek is much more than hope for - more than wishful thinking!  The Hebrew word translated here is Strong's # 2620 "chacah".  It means to actually "flee for protection, be confident in, put trust in"!  (see  Isn't that so much more than hope for protection to be found?  In fact, there are 37 occurrences of this word in the Old Testament and only one time is it translated to have hope in!  Every other time, action is implied!  Jesus is the Savior of those who believe and then act on that belief!  We are to flee for protection - get moving - to the refuge we have at our God's right hand!

Words fail me at how to really bring this phrase to life but the LORD is showing me this passage in light of what I shared yesterday in "My Dad" (  If I am acting on the hope that I have that my Heavenly Father is going to provide refuge from all of my adversaries, I am going to run to my Father!  I'm going to clamor up onto His knee and tell Him everything that I am thinking and feeling!  And then, when He tells me what to do, I'm going to take my stand on His words - because no one messes with my Dad!  That's seeking refuge! 

Abba Father, You have been helping me know by experience the difference between wishful thinking and acting on what You have said!  If is profound!  Thank You for the reminder today.  Please help me to choose to seek refuge in You and no other. In Jesus' Name... Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My "Dad"

I love the view of God as my Father.  I was blessed with a wonderful earthly Dad who would gather me on his knee, hear what I had to say and help at any cost.  That has helped me appreciate my Heavenly Father over the years.  When I became a parent myself, that added a new dimension to how I viewed more difficult things like discipline.  This past few weeks, though, the Lord has been painting a new picture for me that is renewing in me a childlike faith. 

Picture your child, running in the door and you can tell by one look at their face that something is wrong.  Immediately, a parent's heart is stirred with compassion.  You ask what is wrong and you give your child your full attention as they explain - as best they can - what has transpired.  It doesn't really matter what the scenario is, there are really only three ways we respond.  We either help them see from a more accurate perspective, we tell them how to deal with the situation and give them everything they need to do that, or the "mama bear" wells up in us so fast and we assure our child that they can just step aside and we'll handle it!

Why do I not automatically rest in that same parental concern in my Heavenly Father?  When I start to look at each trying circumstance of my life from that perspective, a new childlike faith emerges.

When the situations I face get me down, God knows.  He can tell by one look at my face!  Actually, He can tell by one look at my heart and my mind.  Psalm 139:1-2 says, O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away (New Living Translation).  God knows!  He sees me and He sees the big picture.  When I come to Him with my every concern and allow Him to gather me up on His knee, sometimes I merely need Him to give me a new perspective.  How often do we see the situations we face with such a limited understanding?  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (New International Version).  In ways which transcend all understanding, He gives me peace.  (see Philippians 4:6-7

Sometimes, I find God gives me clear advice as to what I should do and then He follows it up by giving me every resource that I need to follow through.  Psalm 32:7-8 tells us, For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble.  You surround me with songs of victory... The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you (New Living Translation).

The other option is that our Heavenly Father tells us to step aside and let Him handle it!  Isaiah 49:25 gives us full assurance of that!  For thus says the Lord:  “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you... (English Standard Version).  King Jehoshaphat received just such an answer from the LORD in 2 Chronicles 20:15 & 17!  He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s...You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (New International Version 1984). (to read the complete story: Chronicles+20&version=NIV1984)

So you see, if we as fallible parents, would be moved with compassion for our child... If we would give them a better understanding of the situation or advise them how to handle it under our mindful eye... Or if we would be so stirred up with indignation that we would say to ourselves "you just messed with the wrong child" and gently tell your offspring to "stand aside!  Momma's gonna handle this!" how much more our Heavenly Father who loves us more than we could ever fathom?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this new picture of how I can trust You to handle anything and everything that comes at me!  Help me to remember how quickly that mamma bear instinct wells up in me and remember that it originates in You.  Help me to recognize how desperately my arms ache to hold my own children and soothe away their hurts - even when they brought them on themselves.  Help me to be quick to scramble up on Your knee and talk things out with You and then listen to hear You tell me how we're going to handle things because NO ONE messes with my "Dad"!  Amen.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV'84)

As I sat with the LORD this morning on this Thanksgiving Day, it was very easy for me to give thanks to Him.  The house is cozy and quiet... my family is all snuggled into their beds... there's a gentle pitter-patter of much needed rain falling outside my window... all of the trimmings for a thanksgiving feast are ready to be put together and I look forward to a leisurely day with those I love.  Life is good.  I pulled a book by one of my favorite authors off of the shelf.  She always has a way of challenging my thinking and pointing me to God's Throne.  Today was no exception.

I resumed reading from where I had left off the last time I had picked it up.  As the LORD so often does, the theme of the chapter was right in line with what He and I had been talking about.  The book is "31 Days of Drawing Near to God" by Ruth Myers (previously released as "The Satisfied Heart").  Her challenge was giving thanks to the LORD for and during the trials - just as much as for and during the good times. 

The LORD and I have been talking about that these last 24 hours.  I found out yesterday that one of the families in our church lost their 18 year old nephew to a hit and run accident this weekend.  A young man, full of promise tragically killed while crossing the street - and on Thanksgiving weekend!  There is NO day of the year where an accident like this does not completely devastate all those touched by it but there seems an added injustice when it's on a holiday that is supposed to represent everything but.  It didn't take many minutes for my mind to race to another family whose world was turned upside down by a very similar accident 11 years ago. 

Carole Lewis and her family were celebrating Thanksgiving 2001, when their daughter Shari was getting ready to back out of their drive way and was hit by a car speeding out of control.  In a moment, she was gone.  My mind raced to Carole's story so quickly because it was as I listened to Carole share of the greatness of God and His care for her during the moments, days and weeks following Shari's death that I committed to getting to know the LORD like she knew the LORD.  As I listened to Carole on the simulcast that day, she said many other things but I am absolutely convinced that if she hadn't testified to God's greatness even in her grief, I would have walked away unchanged.  I was greiving.  (Carole Lewis, author of "a thankful heart - How Gratitude Brings Hope and Healing To Our Lives"

Since then, the LORD has brought it about that I would meet Carole several times and now call her friend.  I never celebrate Thanksgiving without giving thanks for her and her willingness to share that day.  I am a life radically transformed by God, due in no small part, to her courageous testimony.

So, I think of the family of this 18 year old young man.  I have to wonder how the LORD will use even this situation.  Only time will tell - and even then, maybe not until heaven will we really know.  There's a challenge in all of this for me... Do I give thanks in all circumstances?  Notice how the LORD says "in" all circumstances.  He's not saying "for".  It's funny how I find it easy to be thankful in the good times - like today.  I can even express gratitude for some of the darkest times of my life - at least now in hindsight - because I learned so much about who God is during them.  But I very often fail to give thanks "in" unhappy, stressful or trying circumstances.  I have to face it - I often fail to give thanks just when I don't get my own way!  Forgive me, LORD. 

Ruth Myers put it this way this morning.  "Without trials as God's platform for revealing Himself, might we fail to experience the incredible greatness of His power in our personal lives?  Just by reading about it in the Bible?  That is essential.  It gets the concept into our mind.  But when we're caught in an impossible circumstance and cry out to Him and He answers with deliverance, then we know on a deeper level: Our God truly is powerful!  Apart from difficult circumstances, how earnestly would we seek Him?  How deeply would we know Him?  I'm sorry to say this, but isn't it true that you and I would soon be distracted and often forget Him if everything always went smoothly?"  (Day 10, "31 Days of Drawing Near to God", copyright 1999, Multnomah, a division of Random House Inc.)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 merits repeating...

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

For a further look at this command, visit