Why Celebrate Advent?

Merry christmas!

It all started with a question today.

“Why do we have the Advent wreath and put ornaments on the Jesse tree?”

I had just read in Mark this morning.  And instead of launching into a lot of words, God graciously led me to ask a question instead.

“Why do you think we do these things?”

My daughter thought for a while, tried to talk her way through it.  We have been learning about yearly festivals that the Jewish people were called to observe in Exodus.  I asked her why God asked them to do that every year.

She was getting closer, I could tell.

Then I asked, “Why do we celebrate your birthday?”

I could tell this question helped her.  We have talked about the day of her birth often- the anticipation that her Dad and I felt all those weeks leading up to it, and how our families joined in that joy and anticipation.

So we finally arrived at an answer.

To celebrate and remember.

To slow down and rest held and treasured as we remember love that came for us on that first Christmas night.

Emmanuel- God with us.

What sets us apart from all other religions, and as far back as Exodus, God was revealing this character trait to His people.

We serve a God who wants to be with us.

He does not expect us to live life apart from him, aimlessly wandering and blindly hoping that we “get it right.”

He wants to walk beside us.

To talk to us as with a friend.

To share intimately and deeply,  that we may be known fully and loved without reservation.

This is what we celebrate in the birth of Christ.

His sacrifice that forever made the way of intimacy possible for us.

Our sin was no longer a hindrance for Christ’s blood covers us.

And somehow, though this wondrous mystery of abiding life in Christ- this is all new again.

God makes it new.

And words that I have heard so many times before flood my soul with unspeakable joy.

I treasure these precious words of hope and joy eternal.

My spirit soars and tears spring to my eyes.

He makes all things new.

And in remembrance now- somehow- these truths are more precious to me than ever before.

I cling to them and rest in them.  I sing in joyous rapture exclaiming their truth.

I have sung them for years, and yet- this truth penetrates my spirit in a new and deeper way.

And I exult- for I know this is the work of God.  Not something that I could do or create or inspire- but a gift through His Holy Spirit.

He restores and revitalizes my spirit.

I worship.

And as I listen to my daughter read and sing through the Advent prayer booklet that my parents used to read to me; my heart overflows with thanks.

For today.

Just being here.

Thank you God for reasons, in any season, to celebrate.

Lord, O precious and beautiful Savior.  Lover of my soul.  I stop and take a deep breath, my heart swells and I wonder how to tell you how thankful I am for you.  I am so glad that you know even when I don’t have words.  Your Holy Spirit speaks for me, shares in this overwhelming surge of joy that floods me.  I can’t keep quiet.  You are so good to us.  And each day I am overwhelmed by your faithfulness.  You see me, my family- I feel seen and loved by you.  And saying those words fails to grasp how awesome this reality is- you are here with me.  You are here with my children.  You are with my husband as he works.  You are with us.  Thank you.  Your presence brings joy and peace that I never imagined, and I am so grateful.  Blessed be your Name.  May your Name be praised in all the earth.  Glory to our God and King.  All honor and glory and praise is yours, precious Savior and friend.  You call me friend.  Emmanuel, thank you for the cross.  In your precious Name I praise, Amen.

 

A Well of Thanks

a dash of summer

There are moments when it fills me.

This unspeakable joy.

And that moment suspends as I drink in one of God’s gifts to me.

I remember when it started as a discipline.

A daily choice.

Be thankful.

Look for things to be thankful for- especially in those dark, discouraging moments.

And then it shifted slowly, subtly, into a rhythm of life.

I have noticed lately that thankfulness for my children will overwhelm me as I watch them play.

I will be driving somewhere and I will look at the sky, or the clouds-sometimes an old gnarled tree bowing over the road- and I will be struck by the wonder of God’s creation and breathe thanks to Him.

A text will come from my hubby, or he will come to mind and I will pray for him and send him a text to encourage him- and again it will come.  This reminder that all these are gifts- straight from the hand of God who loves me.

And thanks flows.

He gives wonderful gifts.  Beautiful gifts.  Life-changing gifts.

And his gifts are best because He knows me best.

I went to church this morning and the sermon was about “Thanks Living.”

I love moments like this, when God lays something on my heart to write about, and then in the midst of this work- I go to fellowship with his people and have this word confirmed.

Giving thanks is a life-long pouring out.

And it comes gushing forth in response to a far greater pouring that has come through Jesus Christ our Savior.

His blood that covers all who believe.

Psalm 107:1-3,

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
    finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
    their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

And our pastor shared that their are different words in Hebrew for thanks, and that this thanks in verse 1 is a gushing thanks- a thanks that just goes on and on and on- it wells up deep inside us and pours forth in an eruption of words.

We can’t stem the flow, we can’t hold it in.

We are so full of thanks and joy- and we must tell the one who has done it.  We must share how much he means to us; make sure he knows how vital his presence is to our lives.

And I found myself smiling and on the verge of those joyful tears that God graciously gives- along with all his other gifts.  Emotions that help us express, sometimes without words, how sweet it is to trust in Jesus, to walk with Jesus- every day.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!

As we go to break bread with friends and family and celebrate this season of Thanksgiving- will you commit with me to pray that we may have opportunity to share how God has been working in your heart and life?

Precious Savior and Lord, thank you for your blood poured out for us.  Thank you for today.  Thank you for sunshine and rain.  Thank you for color, for making us all unique- for giving us purpose and hope.  May the light of your love shine forth from us.  Help us slow down in this season where we are surrounded by temptations to speed up.  May we linger with you and remember your faithfulness- to celebrate a Savior born. Fill our hearts with gratitude for the greatest gift- JESUS.  In Christ’s Name we pray, Amen.

Don’t Slip Away…

¿Cuanto dicen las manos de una persona?

Keep holding on.

I just think of the Israelites.  The older I get the more I feel like I can REALLY relate to them.

In the middle of Exodus, the Israelites are in the desert.  God has graciously given them a capable leader (Moses) and a visible sign of His presence with them day and night.

He just miraculously saved them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt.

He showed His superiority over all the Egyptian gods.

And less that 5 days later, the Israelites were grumbling.  They were doubting.  About two weeks after leaving Egypt, they even told Moses that they thought they were better off in Egypt than with God.

When they were thirsty and hungry, they actually claimed that God was going to let them die in the desert.

Wow.

And yet, as I look at my own life, I see faith in God’s provision still sadly lacking.

There are times, if I am honest, that I think I feel like the Israelites did.  Even though I know God is with me, I still feel alone sometimes.

Maybe he has forgotten my troubles.

Maybe he doesn’t realize how bad things really are.

Maybe he has forgotten me.

Maybe I am not being obedient in some way and this is punishment. 

I go back to this place a lot because I have a hard time accepting that God loves me regardless of my performance. And every time I sin I feel like I deserve to be punished by God, and I have to consciously stop myself from withdrawing from Him.

The voice I hear says,” You are always screwing things up, you can never get it right- why would God love you?”

I am ashamed of my moments of fear and worry- I want to live child-like faith, to walk through the storms of life filled with joy and confident in His provision.

Every time I falter, every time I cry or lose my temper, every time I find myself envying someone who has a yard, or their own home, or their husband works from home I feel so terrible.

In my heart I cry out to God and say, “What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I be happy for others and the blessings they have received from you?  Take away this envy, remove coveting from my heart.  Help me be thankful for all that you have blessed us with in this season.  Even though it’s hard- open my eyes to all you have done for us.  Fill my heart with thanksgiving even now. I want to be joyful with others as I see your provision for them too.”

Comparisons destroy contentment in my heart.

Every time.

When my eyes stray from my Savior- if I look too long at my circumstances, or other people, or myself- I lose sight of the most important thing.  The thing that matters more than all others.

HIM.

Jesus.

My Savior.

I am His.

He promises to take care of His own.

He is my shepherd.  He is the lover of my soul.

He delights in me.  He promises to lead and guide me.

It is a one day at a time journey.  I want to stop trying to escape this truth and embrace it.

What lies in your life need the light of God’s truth?

The more time we spend with Him, the more discerning we will be to tell his truth from the enemies’ lies.  We will see clearly that our God does not operate on the world’s time table and He doesn’t follow their “rules.”

And you may be like me and immediately say- but I don’t expect Him to!  And yet…when I look at my life, I see that instant gratification coming into play.  I struggle with the waiting, practicing patience, enduring times of testing patiently…and in those moments I recognize my own need for pruning and sharpening.

I want to be useful to the Lord.

And I know that tools that are sharp work best, and that means filing the parts that are dulled, causing painful friction in those areas where I haven’t fully surrendered myself into his hands.

It hurts, knowing that I need him so much.

Does that make sense?

My sin should drive me to his presence, not cause me to draw away.  Praise God that He does not leave me in my sinfulness but continually shines light upon those areas of my life that need his touch.

I read Proverbs 20:24 this morning.

A man’s steps are from the LORD.  How then can a man understand his way?

I felt like God was saying to me, stop trying to see where this is going.

Just be with me.

Today.

As many minutes as you can- remember me.

Pray to me.

Be with me.

I am enough for you.

Surrender all other distractions and only look at me.

Listen to me.

Precious Lord, thank you for your Word.  Each day, no matter where I am- you meet me there and gently love me and correct me.  As I bask in your love I am refreshed and renewed.  I know that you will take care of me and provide all my needs.  I entrust my family to your care.  Help me let go of material concerns and place them at your feet- that my mind can focus on faithfully loving those around me and serving wholeheartedly.  Give me joy in you today, LORD.  Fill my heart with a hunger to linger with you, to tell you all my pleasures and fears.  I want to fall more in love with you today, and to more faithfully love your people.  Holy Spirit guide me into holiness and truth.  Help me discern the lies.  O thank you Jesus, my precious Savior, for blood that cleanses me.  For life and breath today.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

Peace in the Paradox

Peace

It is so hard sometimes to grasp and hold onto some of God’s most simple lessons for us.

Peace does not depend on my circumstances.

Not when my hope rests in God.

Peace is a gift he gives to the soul who trusts Him.

Our circumstances presently are ripe with opportunity to trust and cast all our cares on Him, because we simply cannot survive any other way.

And honestly, sometimes, I think that I want that control back.  It is so hard sometimes to let go of the rudder and fully let God navigate the ship of my life.

He takes me in directions that are hard.  Humbling.  Stretching.

And sometimes I just want it to be a little easier, a little more comfortable, a little more prosperity and a little less want.

I miss having a house, and a yard.  I am tempted to covet the blessings that God gives others instead of rejoicing with them for a God who gives generously to his children, and knows what is best for each of us.

I don’t know why the Lord has brought us here, to this place for this season.  I keep thinking that I will have some revelation at some point.

But honestly, at the heart of all my wonderings and desire to figure things out, is to somehow grasp control of this- to understand and begin to micro-manage…I can feel this tug-o-war in me.

It is so hard sometimes to simply let go and daily walk in obedience.  To surrender the future into the hands of my God.  He is worthy of my trust.  He has proved it over and over and over again.

My days of deepest peace are those when I simply rest and enjoy Him and all He has given me in this day.  I remember that He holds the future.

My days of tumult and distress are marked by looking at the future and speculating about what may come, how we will handle what we might have to do- it is all speculation, worry, and fear.

So again, I hear my Savior calling- surrender.

Let go.

Live in obedience today.

Trust Me for your daily bread today.

One day at a time.

For the rest of your life.

There is no other way to live as a Christ follower.

In surrender I find my heart’s true home.

Yet the paradox is simply this- I see evidence in my life that I fear and fight arriving in this place- oh Lord that I would embrace this work you long to do in me!

All those things that I think provide security- money, property, job- those things can be lost in an instant.  Taken away through unjust circumstances, through our own sinfulness- I have lived through the loss of those things thought secure.

Once you have, you can’t go back.  Deep down you know that the only secure place lies on The Rock.  All other security is sinking sand.

So today, in spite of my fears and sinfulness and selfishness, acknowledging my feeble faith- I pray and hope in a Savior who promises to walk with me- to abide in me- to transform this cracked jar into a holy vessel that brings praise and glory to my Lord and Savior who is worthy of all my praise.

A portion of a prayer from Valley of Vision has taken up permanent residence in my kitchen.  Every time I read it, it is a prayer- a hope- a desire stoked with each whispered reading- O God let this be true of me.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget thee. Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me know that I truly live only when I live to thee, that all else is trifling.  Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong, and happy.  Abide in me, gracious God.

Valley of Vision, pg. 129

 

 

 

Deeper In…

through thoughts / in dreams

These past few months have been a dry spell spiritually for me.  Before today, perhaps I would have waffled about the reason-hemmed and hawed and made excuses- but the truth is it was simply unrepentant sin.  There are habits in my life that God has asked me to let go of, and I had not fully let go- until now.

Several lessons have been learned in this season- one of the greatest for me is simply to stop trying to do this on my own.  Even when God asks me to let something go- he doesn’t expect me to go off on my own- to say “I’ve got this”- and come back once I have it handled.  I walk in that process with him.  He enables us to obey as we place our trust in him.

That means in those moments of weakness I simply must acknowledge my need and ask for the courage to obey him and turn away from sin.

What prompted this turn around for me?

In part, meditation and study of Mark 4:24-25.  One of the Bible studies that I attend has been studying Mark, and in the context of Jesus’ parables and exhortation- “Pay attention to what you hear,” my spiritual ears did indeed hear, and my heart softened and turned.

Mark 4:24-25

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

We have a choice to put into practice what God teaches us through his Word.

He gives us insight, he teaches us and guides us.  But this truth can be lost if we fail to live it.  Just as James 1 warns us:

 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

And I was reminded of scriptures that are sweet to my soul- talking about God’s Word and the blessedness of it.

My soul is satisfied as with a feast…

Your love is better than life…

Lead me in the path of your commandments for I delight in it…

And I acknowledge that this is hard.  This reprogramming of my brain to not fight against the work of God in my life but to actively join in with it.  This habit of sinfulness and selfishness in me has to slowly die to his righteous law- to his Lordship of my life.

I know that my fight with sin will not be over in this life- it will rage on and on.

I want to participate in it- to be actively and openly inviting God into all those secret places where the lies have gotten stored up.  I want his truth to penetrate it all.  And it will be painful, and it will be hard.  But it will also be gloriously freeing, and the blessedness of drawing nearer to my Savior- I know in my heart that once I surrender,  I will not miss these things that distract and tempt me away from God.

Once I give Him that piece of me I will not regret entrusting Him with more.

In closing- I invite you to meditate on one of my favorite hymns- becoming dearer and dearer as I walk on this journey of life with my Savior. Drink in each verse, slowly savoring each sip.

  1. ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to take Him at His Word;
    Just to rest upon His promise,
    And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

    • Refrain:
      Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
      How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
      Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
      Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
  2. Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to trust His cleansing blood;
    And in simple faith to plunge me
    ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
  3. Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just from sin and self to cease;
    Just from Jesus simply taking
    Life and rest, and joy and peace.
  4. I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
    Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
    And I know that Thou art with me,
    Wilt be with me to the end.

Deep blue sea / Mar Azul intenso

He Reproves Those He Loves…

If I've Told You Once....

On our way back from the park today, my daughter closed the door on her brother when he was trying to grab something from under the seat.  He immediately began crying, but my attention was elsewhere.

My vantage point was such that I had seen the look on her face when she shut that door. It was evident she knew exactly what she was doing.  She knew her brother wanted something out of the car and she shut the door on him to intentionally keep him from getting it.

I spoke very sharply to her and reproved her for her conscious effort to keep her brother from getting the book out of the car that he wanted.  She began to cry.  My daughter is very tender-hearted, and I wanted to take advantage of this teachable moment.

As I reflected on the best way to approach this situation on our walk upstairs to the apartment, the Lord graciously brought to mind the Scripture passage that I had opened the morning before.

Proverbs 3:11-12

My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

And I opened that passage to her and read it to her several times out loud.  I discipline her because I love her.  I want to help lead and guide her to make choices that honor God and convey her love for others.

It was convicting to this Mom’s heart as well.  The Lord reproves those he loves.  I am so thankful that the Lord loves me enough to convict me through his Holy Spirit when I am settling for less than His best in my life.

I may have not always made that face my daughter made this morning, but I have hardened my heart toward God when I have wanted to go my own way, when I have doubted that His way is best.

I hope and pray, through God’s abiding presence, that I will live this truth and not just parrot it to my children.  That they won’t be empty words but words that pierce me and humble me and drive me to my knees praying that I don’t miss it- that I make the most of every opportunity and let nothing come between me and my precious Savior.

O Lord, drive out those false loves from our lives.  Those things that distract us from wholeheartedly and joyfully serving you and loving those around us.  Keep our hearts tender to your reproof.  Father, open our eyes to see you using all things including discipline to guide us toward the plan and purpose you have for us in this life.  Help us not to miss the tasks you have called us to- those that you have planned uniquely for us (Eph. 2:10).  Precious Savior, I need you daily- that I might be an example to my children of daily walking and living in obedience- not just paying lip service.  Help us to not just be hearers but doers- bringing honor and glory to your Name.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Love Me Here

Empty.

I feel dry and cracked and weary today.  Disappointed with the reality that faces me after all we have been through in this past year and a half.

I thought that we would get through this and have some sort of revelation on the other side- a breakthrough.

I thought something might change- something momentous- something wonderful- after all the hard and stress and separation.

And all I feel is let down. Like there are just as many questions now as there were in GA.

Why are we even here?

The restless stirrings are still here.

Those prayers that have not been answered.

It seems like I am spinning my wheels.

I am so dizzy with questions.

And yet-I know whom I have believed.  I do not doubt my precious Savior and know that somehow He is working in all this.

And I have recognized the power in a simple choice.  To take those problems to the Lord and not ignore or run away from reality.  To face my disappointment and confusion about why things are not working out as I hoped or expected.

To still praise Him today.

I believe his promises even when my circumstances are not what I expected or hoped for.

So I say simply to my Lord- “Hold me and love me here.

O Lord, help me find joy and contentment in my current circumstances.  May I be your willing instrument to be used as you will, not as I will.  Thank you for loving me here when I am selfish and angry and confused about why things are the way they are.  Your Word guides me and awakens my mind to recognize my wrong patterns of thinking.  You guide me in truth and teach me as I walk with you.  Thank you Lord for your patience and compassion.  For a Savior who empathizes with my struggles and speaks on my behalf.  One day at a time Lord, thank you for your tender mercies.  In Jesus Name I pray and find my strength, Amen.

 

 

 

A New Beginning

neubeginn

I have missed being here.

This is a place, a space where I linger and let my mind collect, sort, and process all that is happening in my life.

I have to slow down.  But when I slow down now, one thought surfaces before the others…

Starting over is hard.

I know that most of you reading this will know what I mean.

We have all had to start over in something at some point in life.

My husband and I have lived in 3 different states since we had kids.  We have moved every 2-3 years for our entire marriage- sometime even more often than that.

One of the things that frequently spurs me down that path of negativity (these days) revolves around leaving places that I have come to love, people that I have begun to share my life with, churches that have become like home.

Without the Lord, I don’t know that I would have the courage to do this again and again.

I am a creature that craves comfort and the familiar.

It takes courage to introduce myself to new people, to begin at that stage where conversations can be stilted and awkward, fraught with possible misunderstandings that lack of history inevitably produces.

God calls us to be courageous.  To persevere even when the road gets rough.

We have to trust in the one who has sent us here.  We know this is where God wants us right now.  We don’t know why- that may reveal itself in time.

And when I think that I don’t want to start over, and tears prick my eyes as I think of all I have left behind, I have to take a deep breath and remember that God is with me.  This happens one day at a time.

And like I have learned in other seasons of life, we can’t focus too far ahead.  We will miss the beauty of the now, the precious seconds that are right before us.

I will grieve those I have left behind, and I will try to write, e-mail, and keep in touch with them.

I won’t try to push down or deny my feelings, but I pray also that I will not be ruled by my emotions and the grief that sometimes threatens to overwhelm me and shut out everything else.

I am content and at peace as I remember that God, who never changes, walks with us and is behind us and before us.

We are hemmed in by his love.

He knows our needs and he will graciously provide them as he has promised.

We are secure in Him.

He is our one true home- the home that travels with us wherever he may lead.

The state where we live may change- jobs, friends, churches- all these may change…

Psalm 73:26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

I take courage and pray that you may as well as we remember…

Our God is with us.

Our God is for us.

Our God never fails.

 

 

What I Deserve: Entitled to Death

Grave of Mary Elizabeth  173

Even as I wrote it, this title seemed a little harsh.  But as I linger in the gospels during this Lenten season, I can’t help considering what a harsh reality life without a Savior would be.

For the wages of sin is death…that’s what I deserve.  Each has gone astray and turned their own way- the Lord laid on Jesus Christ the iniquity of us all.

My sin necessitated action on God’s part.  He is just, and my sin was against Him.  It makes me think of David in Psalm 51- against you and you alone have I sinned.

It is so easy to forget or ignore how much our sin hurts God.

How often do we think only of the consequences of our bad choices and how if affects us and forget to grieve over the pain that we have caused our Creator and Redeemer?

Our gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice increases as we meditate on and ponder all that we have done to deserve death.  We are sinful and selfish, stubborn and prideful.

We hurt other people in pursuit of our own pleasure or desire to escape.

This is an age of distraction, where many times we look for anything to take us away from focusing on the now.

We are called to be watchful, to be on our guard- to actively fight against this sinful nature within us- that beckoning of so many things that vie for our attention and seek to distract us from God, or make us forget Him altogether.

Six times.

Six times the Lord has brought this passage to mind over the past week.  And as I have pondered it and prayed over it, the Lord has been gently calling me to let some things go- to knock down walls of distraction that keep me from focusing on God and his call for me in this life.

Mark 12:29-30 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear oh Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

How do we live it?

So that anyone who looks at our life, whether they know us or not, sees Him in us?

I want that so desperately- a life lived in submission to my Savior where it is evident that He is my first love.

We love because He first loved us.

It is so easy to forget.

Why?

I see the Israelites and how forgetful they were, and I recognize my own forgetfulness too.  It is so easy to become focused on myself, my current circumstances, and forget what God has just done for me only days and weeks before.

We are a forgetful people.

That’s why we need to be in God’s Word daily, meditating on His promises- because we forget- and when we forget we lose sight of Him and that leads to sin.

He keeps our feet from slipping.

He holds us secure.

Love with our heart- all our passion and fervor concentrated upon Him because of our gratitude for His love for us. Love for His law and commandments- trusting that He knows best.

Love with our soul- the center of who we are- with our identity, the deepest parts of us- connected with him, in submission to Him.

Love with our mind- taking our thoughts captive, meditating on His promises, memorizing Scripture, focusing on things that are…

Phil. 4:8 …whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

There is conscious effort in these disciplines, and my daily choices of how I spend my time should show that I care deeply about whether God approves of those things I see with my eyes and hear with my ears.

Love God with my strength- to use my body to honor him and work for Him.  To work hard and use my time and talents to serve my neighbor, loving them as I love myself.

BBC CrossSo I ask you dear friends as I have asked myself this week- what do I love more than God?

What am I going to do about it?

We can continue to rationalize and make excuses for the sin that we let linger, or we can ask God to cleanse us from all that distracts us from serving Him completely, and once again say- “All to Jesus, I surrender, all to him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust Him, in his presence daily live.  I surrender all, I surrender all.  All to thee my precious Savior, I surrender all.”

 

O Lord, as I ponder Christ’s death- not only his physical pain but that He endured separation from you, His precious Father- for me- I am overwhelmed.  And I see my sin that held him there.  He chose to rescue me from the death I deserved and give me the glorious gift of salvation through the shedding of His blood, through His death.  You planned this from the beginning.  You made a way for us to be reconciled.  I am so overwhelmed by your love and care.

Not only that Christ died, but that he also lived and suffered and was tempted as a human man- so that we have a Savior that can empathize with our weaknesses. We know that He was tempted in every way and yet he did not sin- and he did it all for us.

Jesus, you thought of me, as you died upon that tree on Calvary.  You bled and died so that I might be free.  O Lord, my King, help me to live in gratitude today.  To honor you with remembrance of all you’ve done.  To share and rejoice in this truth with my family and friends- and with those who have yet to encounter your glorious love and grace.  Deepen my love for you.  May I cry out like David in Psalm 119 and glory in your love and law- in the glorious truth that changes me- your Word.  Free us from all that entangles us so that we may joyfully praise your Name.  Through Jesus my Savior I pray, Amen.

 

Tossed by Feelings

Wave-1

(written Sunday morning)

As I read the last chapter of Elizabeth Elliot’s book Discipline: The Glad Surrender this morning, I found myself so thankful for this precious word that the Lord has brought to me today.

The Scripture in James came to mind about the waves tossing me around, no self-control, no mooring, just going which ever way emotion seems to send me.

James 1:5-8

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind;for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Our feelings, which can be so strong and powerful at times, must be brought under the discipline and care of the Lord. 

That doesn’t mean that I stop feeling.  I will continue to pour out my heart to God as the Psalmist encourages me to do.

But I don’t want to let my feelings steer the ship of my soul.  I know whom I have believed.  And when my heart trembles and emotions weigh me down and oppress me, I want to acknowledge this before the Lord and ask him for the strength to obey, even when it is hard.

We are moving in a few weeks.  My emotions are in constant turmoil about this.  I will miss our house and our neighbors; I will miss our church.  I will miss my Bible Study friends, and fellowship over God’s Word together.

All these sacrifices are nothing, if this is where God is leading us.  And praise His Name, I know that it is.  He has blessed us with that confidence and peace.  Every time that my emotions rear up, I have to speak the truth of this situation to myself and hold fast to God.

I can’t let my emotions turn me and toss me this way and that.  It is so hard sometimes!

This chapter was so timely this morning.  It has strengthened my resolve to trust God, even when my circumstances are hard.  Especially when I am thrown out of my comfort zone and confronted with many trying circumstances.

This morning, as we prepare for church, I don’t know if our car will start (it just started acting up last night); my husband is out of state and unable to help. I find myself once again in a position where I must seek help from others, another blow to my illusion of self-sufficiency.

I need the Lord so desperately to give peace to my soul despite my circumstances.  I don’t want to be tossed about, but to rest in the confidence that my Savior knows what I need, even before I ask him.

He will provide.

And though this road may not be easy, if I am walking the way He has called me to, there will always be grace sufficient for all my needs and strength to perform all the tasks he has called me to do.

Taking a deep breath this morning and leaning into Him.  I need Him every hour, and in this hour I pray and hope to hold Him, keep my eyes heavenward, and pray for the strength to surrender my emotions to his Lordship.

Lord, you are sufficient for all my needs.  Help me remind myself that you keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.  That precious promise.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is the rock eternal.  You are my rock.  Strong. Secure.  Able to hold me steady through any storm.  Thank you for being so steady and unwavering.  I know that I can believe and hold fast to your Word and stand firm in Your promises to me.  Praise be to your precious Name.  Through Jesus Christ your son I pray, Amen.