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.
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.
Psalm 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
O God, as I come before you today, my heart is weary from waiting. And I wish you didn’t feel so far away, so silent in our time of trouble. I know that you will answer, but LORD, it is so hard to wait when the money gets tighter and tighter, and still we wait. And the only things I can see with my human eyes, with my limited understanding, are the troubles mounting at our door.
O LORD, I need your strength today- to just put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in faith. It is so hard to look at our situation with these human eyes and have a quiet and restful faith, to have a mind kept in steadfast peace. I can only have those things in You. Lord, thank you for giving us your Word and the model of David- a man after your own heart who wrestled and asked hard questions. It gives my heart hope and joy to know I can be honest with you- I can pour out my heart- I can tell you my fears, and when I am hurt by your silence.
Thank you that you love me despite my doubts. I place my heart in your hands again, and I give you this broken spirit and ask you to revive me according to your Word. Strengthen my steps, that I may serve you and honor your everlasting and glorious Name. You are worthy of my praise, today and every day, and forevermore. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Does your grip get weak sometimes?
Life’s circumstances make my hands sweaty; anxiety and worry tease and taunt on the periphery of my mind.
Sometimes the fire just seems too hot.
And I find myself wanting to turn away from some truths that are hard to stare down.
My own selfishness.
And sometimes I just want some breathing room.
Because it is hard saying no sometimes, even when I know that obeying God is best.
Sometimes I choose the rocky road, the bloody feet…the pain.
And sometimes my sin feels heavy.
I avoid a quiet time, or just rush through it.
I have other things to do that day.
Or I don’t take time to pray- I do a cursory one here or there- but my heart doesn’t feel…in it.
I am going through the motions, and know even as I do that I am behaving like the scribes and Pharisees.
Heart is what matters- our God wants our hearts.
His love is full of passion.
He desires to know us intimately and be intimately known.
The closer we come to Him, the more His light shines into the dark places of our heart- the secret sins- the rationalized and excused areas of disobedience.
And we must choose- to follow and obey- or turn away.
It is a daily, moment by moment journey.
There are still days when I fall into those sins- those habits that are hard to break- and I feel like such a hypocrite.
And sometimes it shocks me- the depth of my own sinfulness- even though I am really trying to abide…I see my own depravity and I don’t want anyone to see this…why do I think that if I distance myself from God perhaps he won’t see…?
That’s why I have not posted for so long- my heart has been heavy with my sins, the battles I am waging.
Sometimes I don’t know if I will ever win…and then I remember God’s Word- this life is not the end.
Suffering, pain, hardship- we will face.
But we never walk alone.
I want to keep trying, keep fighting- keep seeking God.
And on those mornings when I wake up and cringe at my bad choices, when I cry tears of regret- I will surrender once again.
I will admit my fault and gratefully receive the grace poured out upon me through Jesus Christ my Savior…and I will invite him in again.
Hold on to Jesus.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good (Romans 12:9 MSG).
O LORD, help me accept your discipline and never forget the overwhelming, self-sacrificial love that you pour out over me today and every day. My sins don’t reach beyond the realm of what your love can touch. You sweep away my offenses like a cloud- and you call to me- RETURN. Return to me. I will LORD, today, I want to renew my spirit, and renew my mind. Though our relationship may ebb and flow- I choose to keep walking with you. To read your precious Word and seek you. Nothing in this world compares to you. It would all be loss without you, Jesus. You bring meaning, hope, and joy- you fill all the longings of my heart. Thank you- for all I can see and all I cannot see- for the ways you are working all things for good. Glory to your precious name, Amen.
1 Thessalonians 4:10-12
“But we urge you beloved, to do so more and more (love one another), to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
O Lord, as I read this passage in your holy Word, it was a reminder to me yet again- my purpose here- just as Jesus lived each day of his life- is simply to point others to you. It is not for my fame, or my glory- but all, ever, only for my King. And my mind floats to thoughts of Phil. 2, which my Bible calls Imitating Christ’s humility- and the way that passage strikes me every time- that the Son of God did not take what he thought he deserved or take advantage of his “connections” like so many in our world do, but Jesus emptied himself, became a slave to death, for us. For the very ones shouting, “Crucify him!”
As I ponder all you have done, my heart wells with joy, love, and peace. I am reminded of the hope I have in you, and I am touched in my spirit by that longing for my eternal home. Sometimes it is so hard to remember, so hard to let go of all this bombardment of the senses in this temporal world, and reach for my home with you. Thank you for small moments when I see glimpses of what is to come, and my heart draws strength. You strengthen me according to your Word. Blessed be your Name in all the earth. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
While saying goodbye to a friend, a hummingbird flew swiftly toward our feeder on the front porch.
It took only seconds for the tiny, graceful bird to swoop in, assess the situation, and rapidly depart- but I saw him and followed his flight away from us to a nearby tree.
My friend did not even notice him until I mentioned the hummingbird that had just come by. Why? My ears and eyes have been trained to look. When I am outside or even pass by the window- I look to see if the hummingbird is feeding or simply perching on the hook that supports the feeder.
I have been trained to have eyes to see.
Just as my eyes have been trained to anticipate and look for the hummingbird, so our eyes must be trained to discern the work of God in our lives.
I wait in the morning in anticipation of the hummingbird’s arrival. And when he flutters in and lands on the feeder, my heart is filled with joy and wonder that I get an opportunity to watch him. I love noticing details about his outer appearance, but I also love to hear his wings hum and hear his sweet song.
Oh Lord, that I might anticipate you with such joy. That my heart would be captivated by your song, and long to hear it again and again.
Oh Lord my God, help me be watchful for you- that I might be in tune with your will for my life. May my ears listen to hear your voice, and my eyes look in anticipation of a glimpse of you. I don’t want to miss out on the blessings you have for me by choosing my own way. Help me submit to your righteous, perfect will. In Jesus Name, Amen.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them. (see also Isaiah 6:9-10)
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
I feel very still and quiet today.
No questions lurking- as they pop up in my mind- I push them away.
I don’t know the answer. Where the path lies. And I recognize the crossroads here.
Following the path of the past- fix it, manage it, quickly. Don’t admit that you are not sure where the future lies. Have a plan- sound like you are in control.
And I wish to forge a new path.
For firm roots to sink deeper into my Savior.
To wait in trust.
To hope in Him.
To push all worry aside and simply say, “I trust you, those who put their faith in you will not be ashamed. ”
This is a narrow road.
Where losing a job can be seen as a blessing.
Where an uncertain future does not incite fear but grasped as an opportunity to grow in faith.
To live a life with God’s mark all over it.
All glory is His alone.
And when our lives take unexpected turns- we don’t lament- but we say, “what’s God up to?”
For the one who loves me more than any other…is also one who I can completely trust my life.
Psalm 131 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.
Only in you LORD, only in you do we find quiet rest and peace. In solitude and silence we find strength as we listen to your still small voice. Thank you LORD for the mysterious ways you work- gently speaking to us, urging us deeper in our intimacy with you- yet without demanding or pushing- in your mercy you orchestrate events in our lives to draw us near- to give us opportunities to choose you. I see your mercy and faithfulness as a string woven through the fabric of my whole life, always present, even in seasons when I failed to see. And now, when fears and doubts sometimes overwhelm, and I am tempted to seek comfort in old habits- oh LORD, help me cling to you. I never regret running to my refuge, my strong tower, the Rock that is my Redeemer. Help us to trust you today with what our eyes cannot see. To remember that You are love- full, abundant, steadfast love. We can trust you. Take our burdens LORD, we lay them down. Through your precious son, Jesus, we pray, Amen.
I open your Word, and you transform my reality.
The blurry comes into focus- your Truth touches me, and makes me whole.
I am satisfied as with a feast.
You know what I need, and generously pour words of comfort, discipline, and direction upon me.
I feel refreshed and revived.
And all the unanswered questions seem small in the light of your glory and grace.
You came to me during one of my lowest moments, when I was certain you had abandoned me- and left me in misery- and used all of the difficulties and hardships to refine me and give me a precious treasure in new depth of trust and faith in you.
This amazing and profound mystery- you touched me– you healed me and strengthened me-and made me whole.
I will never be the same.
Your Word speaks to me with power and authority- it shines light into my heart and brings peace. It leads me in the path of life.
You walk with me and talk with me.
And I see now the greatest gift you give is simply- YOU. Your presence.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
More precious than any prayer that you answer LORD, is the precious truth that you have given me yourself. Your abiding presence- Your love. May nothing in this world captivate me like you do. Help raise my eyes to look upon your face- to turn from the difficulties and struggles and simply gaze upon your truth. You are here- you are faithful- you are my rock and my deliverer. You hold my family in the palm of your hand. We are safe. I know I have the strength to face this unknown future when you are holding me- when you guide our steps and help us. Thank you for your promises- thank you for speaking peace to me when my heart is troubled. I am overwhelmed by your goodness and steadfast love to me. All praise and honor to our God and King forever, Amen.
I have a particular weakness or infirmity that I am praying that the Lord would free me from. I believe that we are given power when the Holy Spirit lives within us- and that the bondage of sin can be broken through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This habitual sin has always been a struggle.
Do you have a sin that just never seems to go away? This one will ebb and flow- never fully leaving and sometimes the temptation is so strong- or it comes in times when I am weak and my guard is down.
I was praying this morning that God would help me to surrender myself completely to Him- that He would give me power to purge this sin out of my life.
Here is the prayer He gave to me, I hope that it will encourage you. I am going to put it on a notecard and carry it in my pocket daily.
Psalm 86 (portions of verses 1-11)
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. You are my God, be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you I cry all day long. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble, I call on you, for you will answer me. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your Name.
I was reading in Ephesians 3-5 this morning, and it was so convicting. All aspects of my life are lived in the presence of God. My secret sins are not secret from him. He knows my heart- and any place in my life where I seek refuge or comfort in anything besides Him alone.
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As I eagerly made my way to the window this morning to peer out at the pots planted with seeds, I cannot hide the jubilation in my spirit at the hope of spring.
I daily make a tour of the yard, looking for new signs of growth, reveling in each new flower or bud of green.
Am I that expectant as I wait on you?
Do I hope and anticipate your provision?
For you are more sure and steady than the hope of spring.
You never fail to keep your promises.
Those who hope in you will not be put to shame.
Oh Lord, when answers are a long time coming-sometimes I lose hope. I lose that expectant belief in my spirit- that eagerness to see your provision. Strengthen my faith today Lord, as I wait on you. As I remember your faithfulness through generations, may I hold unswervingly to the hope I have in you- knowing that you keep your promises. You know what I need, and the time in which I will need it. You have never put me to shame. Let me say again with David- for God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us (Ps. 62:5-8). In Jesus precious and holy name, Amen.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.