Day 3: Where was God?

 

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we are wounded by life’s uncertainty, God loves to be our hero who uses the pain to wreck our religiosity and cause our hard hearts to become soft again.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 6:15-19

15 “And so by persevering, Abraham inherited the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and the oath serves as a confirmation to end all dispute. 17 In the same way God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise that his purpose was unchangeable, and so he intervened with an oath, 18 so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” 

In the midst of the biggest heartache of our lives, our faith in God is under siege while voices around us as well as the voice of our own heart betray us and beg us to accuse God for the calamity that has come upon us.

Given everything we have, still we feel we have a right to it all.

In His sovereign wisdom, God created us without the ability of being able to control anything and with no certain promises in this world accept Himself. We all want to be able to count on something in this life and it is sometimes frightening when we cannot.

This human condition of dependency causes us to engage in many futile efforts of trying to overcome our dependent status. We can begin attempting to control our life or others, becoming angry with God, people or circumstances that we cannot control, or maybe at the end of ourselves, we bring our hurt to the only One Who can heal us – the One Who designed us to be in relationship with Himself.

Our genius God who made us to depend on Him did not do it with any other motive than love. Our hearts drift away – that is the norm. And when life is hard, our hope begins to fade, too.

So where was God when we suffered our biggest sorrow, illness, financial woe? I know, I know. If I say “he was there”, that is hard to understand. If He was there, why didn’t He stop it?

This question has caused many to doubt God’s goodness and yet the very same part of us who craves independence from God wants dependence if it means He can fix all of our problems. A little hypocritical, perhaps.

God is not insecure. He does not need us, but He loves us so much that He gave His own life for ours and lets us choose how we will live. He gives us a free will and although he is in complete control of the universe, we have the ability to choose sin or obedience. Death or life. There are consequences for those choices and when we or other people in our lives choose sin, we will be impacted. Is God to blame for that?

In the darkest moments of my searching for God in our mess, the LORD showed me that there were many layers in my heart. Layers of hurt, doubt, unbelief. I said I believed in God. But there were layers tucked beneath that could not fully trust the God Who could allow such pain in.

When we are wounded by life’s uncertainty, God loves to be our hero who uses the pain to wreck our religiosity and cause our hard hearts to become soft again.

I did not want my faith hurt or my children’s faith hurt from the actions of their father. The fact that he professed to be a Christian made our trauma even worse. In that place of desperation for healing and crying out to God that He would help me to raise my children and keep their hearts and faith strong, the LORD amazed me.

He did not remove my problems but He did change our hearts. Over and over again His promises stood out. They were not just nice sounding, fluffy wishes. They were real. They were for us. And they were accessed by His Holy Spirit, revealing the truth and helping us to believe and hold on to each precious promise.

“I would have despaired if I had not believed I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living.” Those words from the Psalmist cut my heart wide open. Oh, God. I want to believe that my life will not always be a heap of ruins. God can do a lot with a willing heart who asks for help to believe when everything seems hopeless.

If someone has hurt you seemingly irreparably, know this: God is for you. He does not change, He is incapable of lying. Every single one of His promises are for you, if you will just persevere.

I can hear some saying impatiently, “I need that promise now”. So do I, friend. So do I. But when we begin to trust His promises He also reveals our need to trust Him with what is best for us. What we consider mercy might not be mercy. What we consider blessing might lead us to a curse. Father knows best. He is our Promise Maker & Promise Keeper and His ways are perfect.

As we move on toward maturity in Christ, we are no longer like little children who need to be given what we demand in order to feel loved. Instead, we stand in awe at the character of our God – unfailing, perfect in every way, and the fact that He would offer us promises at all – the ones who violated His perfect law – and we can only worship with gratitude.

Surrendering our hearts to Him and asking Him to help us trust Him when we don’t understand – is complete freedom. He is able to enable us when life is hard and turn our ashes into a thing of beauty.

I wrote the song, “Layers” last year out of this testimony of surrender that God led me through. I pray it encourages you, today, as well. Peel back the Layers of your heart and lay them at His feet. Expose and surrender the hurt and fears before the One Who wipes away every one of our tears.

Oh, Lord! You are so beautiful, so faithful, so good! Thank You for Your precious promises. Help us to cling to You and to Your promises and to never grow weary in doing so.

Day 2: Not in Kansas Anymore

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope is fragile if it is dependent on a perfect life. The strength of a hope in Christ is that we hope beyond what we are feeling.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Hoping is easier when all is well. But when it seems the ground beneath you has not just been shaken, but disappeared altogether, where is the Christian to stand? On higher ground.

At first this higher ground is on our knees, desperate for understanding and compassion from our God. With no fight left, surrender to God might seem easy, but depression or fear try to keep us from hoping at all.

Maybe we quote some verses or sing a song to try to help pull ourselves up in our new reality. Maybe we get angry, or cry or call friends – anyone who can offer a tonic to numb our pain. Maybe we stare blankly at the walls around us, pinching ourselves to see if we are awake.

We can’t go back to the place we were before the pain entered our lives. We can’t move forward, either. Daily functioning becomes an exercise in futility and feels like walking in mud. Our hearts are gripped with shocking horror that threatens to paralyze any movement at all.

A crisis happens when we encounter this moment when life simply hurts. We grasp for any sense of “normalcy”, whatever that is, and secretly in our hearts can begin to question God’s love and goodness.

Ever felt this kind of hopelessness? Sorry if I paint a grim picture. We have to be real, though, and honest – in order to see our need for a hope that is tenacious in the face of suffering.

The day God revealed to me the sin of the father of my children I could not breathe. The shame, horror and complete shock enveloped me. I did what any sensible woman would do. I ate chocolate. A lot of it. Buffalo wings, too. I spent out of our budget just to try to bring joy to my children. I wept and wept some more. I cried out for understanding and suffered the shunning and new social status that threatened to steal my joy. How did I get there?

This was not supposed to happen. I had waited for marriage and married a Christian man. I had promised to protect my children. In a state of grief, I could not feel my hands or feet and was dragged to court incessantly by the one who inflicted on us all our pain. Trying to homeschool five children while being falsely accused was a mess. But still I had this thing inside of me – what was it? Hope.

Hope that the God who promised to use everything for my good and His glory would do so. Hope that my God saw me. On the witness stand. On the floor, crying out for His deliverance. I read His Scripture night and day, trying to find answers that would help me to hold on just one more day. This hope was a constant anchor that I had to cultivate in God’s word.

If you have never gone through something traumatic that has rocked your world, hang tight. This world does not promise a perfect life. If you have suffered something that has left you disillusioned, you are in the right place.

Suffering is common to man. There are lots of books on the subject, but having genuine joy, hope and victory when the trials continue is uncommon. Finding hope in the midst is not just about coping, but about reinventing our idea of hope and navigating disillusionment to find real hope in God’s sovereignty, promises and character rather than in our circumstances.

So how do we let go of Kansas? It may have been all we ever knew. The grief process of letting go of our perception of what we thought our life in Christ should look like is not easy, but it is a well worn path by many who can testify of God’s miracles reaching into their circumstances and transforming their heart and hope in the midst.

It is not until we are submerged in the most challenging trials of our lives that we realize where our hope is placed. The former hope was based conceptually, this new hope experientially. The former hope was developed when we were surrounded by blessing, this new hope was developed in the fire and is no longer dependent upon circumstances.

Our innocence gone, our hope in the happy fairy tale ending smashed to pieces on the floor, we have to find a new hope that is not manufactured by rote, but rather fashioned in the fire. Tough questions need to be asked to find hope again. Authentic questions that pour out our heart before God.  At this place of raw suffering and crying out to God we present an honest offering – a sacrifice of praise, that becomes an internal hope that cannot be put out.

Paul understands. He wanted everyone to know the fire he had passed through – not to be a whiner, but to be real and to give God the glory. He shared his secret, too. He found his hope in relying on the One Who rose from the dead. Anyone Who can do that can handle our problems.

While we are not in our Kansas anymore, the new place we are at is deep. Deep in Christ. We understand His suffering. We understand that He left Heaven to come and suffer for us. He understands what it is like to leave perfection behind for those He loves. He left Heaven and we had to leave our Kansas.

We cannot get back what we thought we owned, but when we see the amazing treasures God gives us while we process trauma, we would not want to go back there, anyway. In its place is now a genuine desire and acceptance of what God has for us, which far surpasses our former hopes and dreams.

Hope is fragile if it is dependent on a perfect life. The strength of a hope in Christ is that we hope beyond what we are feeling. Supernaturally, God enables us to hope when it seems ludicrous to do so.

Recently, I had the joy of thanking Sara Groves for a song she wrote that embodied what I felt during this season of searching for hope in my life. I thought you might enjoy it, too – Painting Pictures of Egypt.

Lord, I pray for each one reading this blog – that you would fill them with your inexpressible hope and give them Your promises whispered to their heart. You are forever faithful and we worship You!

Day 1: Salvation is Here

salvation

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope would be meaningless if we did not have a living God Who makes and fulfills His promises.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 1:3-6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Ever feel like salvation looks a little different than what you had hoped for? I mean, if we are on the Jesus team now, life should be unicorns and roses without the thorns, right? Or maybe you haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation yet because you are not sure you can hope in one more thing that will possibly let you down.

Seriously, life can send us some hard times and it is not enough to quote some nice sounding sayings to get us through it all. Our hope in God can begin to falter when we pray and we pray and circumstances don’t change. Where is God when life hurts? Why doesn’t He choose to end our pain sometimes?

It seems wrong to question, but in all honesty, the only path to healing and finding genuine hope is to walk through the door of pain and seek to understand the heart of God in it all.

It is in the moment of our angst and grief that we find more than comfort in God’s Word and His presence. We discover a purpose and a hope far less superficial than the quest for a perfectly pain-free life, and God surprises us with a living hope in Him.

If you have ever wondered where God was when you discovered the most horrific, painful truth that shattered your life and family, or your home was foreclosed, or when you suffer with multiple illnesses, or your marriage ends in divorce or your pregnancy ends in miscarriage . . . the list goes on and on with the disappointments life can bring . . . you are not alone. I’ve wondered, too, when I walked through all of the things I just mentioned. But that wondering has been transformed into a wonder at how awesome God is – even when life hurts.

Religiously saying He is there or won’t give us more than we can handle doesn’t cut it when the sky is falling. He is not just there when we suffer – He chose the suffering we seek to avoid – because He loves us so much. When He chose to be rejected by men, spat upon and to bear our punishment, the Bible says He had joy. He endured His suffering knowing firmly the hope He had. In His immense suffering, He knew what He was accomplishing in that suffering – the salvation of many.

So it is with us. When we suffer and long for our deliverance, long for just a glimmer of hope again, God is accomplishing something far greater than relief from our temporary pain. He is changing our hope and making us into His image, but He also gives grace in our time of need.

To be human is to hope – to hope and believe in an ultimate good end. God uniquely made us with a craving for hope and something more than we see around us. This is not ingratitude, but a longing placed there by a sovereign God, who knew we needed to be people of Hope to live worthy lives.

He does not tell us to hope and then crush our dreams. Hope would be meaningless if we did not have a living God Who makes and fulfills His promises. Hope is an overused word that can lose its meaning, unless we begin to look deeper into what this hope is really like that God has for us.

The Scripture above says that when we are saved we are saved into a living hope. Not just a concept, nor a thing to strive for – this hope is alive and given to us. Our hope is alive because our Savior is alive. This does not mean the removal of pain or sorrow, but it does mean He will rescue us. It might be a mighty deliverance that brings Him glory or it might mean an awesome testimony of His enablement throughout. The irony of God’s salvation is that God does not always save us from our troubles, but He often saves us through our troubles.

Some of the most amazing men of God in the Bible died, never having seen their hope fulfilled, yet their hope was certain. Their hope was beyond the grave and eternal.

When we feel without hope, it is in that moment that our hope is in the wrong place. Don’t get me wrong – it is not wrong to hope to see the goodness of God in the land of the living – the Psalmist echoed the same heart cry – but when our hope is in Him alone, we are no longer disappointed.

There is an awe that God will somehow use the mess to bless and also glorify Himself. He promises to. Instead of hoping I will no longer have to suffer, I now hope that I can honor God in every situation that arises.

During one of the greatest sorrows of my life, I was crying out to God and asking Him why He let someone else’s sins destroy my life and why I was suffering consequences for their sins. “I wasn’t angry when I bore your sins” was the answer. God forgive me. I had forgotten about His glory and felt forgotten by my loving Father, when He was inviting me to get hope and strength from Him in the midst of the fire.

On the day God drew me to Himself, I was saved from eternal suffering, but my circumstances did not change. I was submerged into a litany of newfound persecution, but my heart was full of hope. This is the mystery of a supernatural hope – it does not depend on anything this world has, but is firmly anchored in God alone.

This hope is anchored in a future salvation that is yet to be fully revealed. It is not anchored in a problem-free, perfect life on earth.

As we explore this hope together, the verse above reminds us that this salvation is a living hope. Our salvation is a constant hope that we look to and can depend on. It never fades, it is certain. It is a relationship with the God Who made us.

One last promise to keep us going – Jesus is interceding for us. He knows we get discouraged. He will not fail us and will restore our hope if we will just hang on to His word and promises.

Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

31 Days of Reinventing Our Hope in God


31 Days of Reinventing our Hope in God – in 5 minutes a day
Welcome to 31 Days of Hope in October – not the hope you have grown up with or grown accustomed to, but a hope that is transformed in the very presence of God.
Scroll down to catch a glimpse of what this hope just might look like. This page will be the directory for you to come back to for easily finding posts within this series.
Click to read the other days, I’ll be adding a link to each day once it goes live.
I pray this is a blessing to you and that it will be a refreshing to your soul, even if it is only 5 minutes. Thank you for coming and exploring hope with me!

Day 1: Salvation is Here
Day 2: Not in Kansas Anymore
Day 3: Where Was God?
Day 4: The Grief Process: Finding Our Way & Thriving in the Desert
Day 5: Vision From the Pit: Purpose in Crisis
Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness -Who Was the Thief?
Day 7: Facing Depression
Day 8: Facing Disillusionment
Day 9: Facing Fear
Day 10:Facing Judgment
Day 11: Facing the Sin Within
Day 12: Facing Memories Through a Biblical Lens
Day 13: Facing the Enemy
Day 14: Facing and Embracing Reality – The New Normal
Day 15: Facing the Future
Day 16: Understanding Sin & The Sovereignty of God
Day 17: The Christian Culture
Day 18: Telling Ourselves the Truth – exposing Our Unbelief
Day 19: Fairy Tales Remixed
Day 20: Uncovering the Goodness of God When Life Hurts
Day 21: Hope’s Debtor: Gratitude & Humility
Day 22: Hope in Sorrows & Affliction
Day 23: Exploring Hope: Making Sense in a Fallen World
Day 24: Superficial Hope
Day 25: The Promise of Hope
Day 26: The Foundation of Hope
Day 27: The Formation of Hope
Day 28: The Fruition of Hope
Day 29: Hope Discovered
Day 30: Hope Reinvented
Day 31: 31 Days…How Was It?

We were all children once, dreaming of a fairytale life and happy ending. The thing is, we fail to see that fairy tales are often fraught with suffering before the main character gets to a place of peace and blessing. So it is with life. For the Christian, there is hope in suffering, but there can also be disillusionment. This series on hope is not going to give you false hope. It is not about living the American Dream and it is not dependent upon our worldly circumstances, but this hope we have is real and it belongs to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes hope is hidden from our eyes and seems impossible to reach. I pray this series will help you to find your hope again, but this time it will look different. This month our expectations and desires will have passed through God’s sovereignty and purposes and redefined our understanding of what hope really looks like.

It might hurt. It might feel like death at times to explore our concept of hope and the loss of what we thought we wanted, but when our eyes are opened to see the fullness of this living hope, unlike any this earth offers, we are set free. Set free from the trap of a superficial hope and awakened to a new sense of purpose toward the hope God has for us – and His plans for us are not just good – they are the best!

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Truthful Tuesday: The Gift of Gab – Blessing or Cursing?

choose-words-carefully-for-each-one-can-affect-the-destiny-of-another

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Choose words carefully, for each one can affect the destiny of another.

Scriptures of the Day:

Exodus 20:7

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.”

Psalm 10:4, 7

4 “The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks,“God won’t hold me accountable; he doesn’t care. 7 His mouth is full of curses and deceptive, harmful words; his tongue injures and destroys.”

Proverbs 15:2,4

2 “The tongue of the wise treats knowledge correctly, but the mouth of the fool spouts out folly. 4 Speech that heals is like a life-giving tree, but a perverse tongue breaks the spirit.”

Matthew 12:36-37

36 I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 15:11

“What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.”

Ephesians 4:29

“You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 5:4

4 “Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting–all of which are out of character–but rather thanksgiving.”

Colossians 3:8

“But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth.”

James 1:26

“If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.”

James 3:10

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.”


 

I know what you are thinking – with the litany of Scriptures I have on speaking blessing instead of cursing that a mighty sermon is coming. 🙂

Well, not really. I hope today’s post will be an encouragement and a reminder of how God wants us to communicate and the sheer joy of it all. And I figured we could use some reminders from God’s word in case anyone tries to rationalize cursing, gossiping or speaking ill of another person as ever being ok.

Words are amazing. They can really encourage or discourage another person on toward greatness, apathy or destruction. It is such a gift to be able to communicate to another person, to praise our Creator or cheer someone on. Sometimes we forget that it is indeed a gift.

Sometimes my heart is so full of joy it could burst. This happens often when I am reading God’s word and culminates in tears flowing, full of gratitude as all I can mouth are the words, “thank you, God”!

With so many words in the human language, it would seem we have a lot of terms in our arsenal to be able to effectively communicate, but alas, words often cannot convey fully what our heart really intends.

Sometimes there are no words that could fully express the soul’s joy, ire or sorrow. It is in those times that my spirit cries out to the living God and I know He understands, even though I have not spoken a word.

With such a tremendous privilege of speaking and writing, it would seem we would have a God-given purpose in it. If ultimately every word is known by God before it is even spoken, wisdom encourages us to carefully consider each one.

He made us to communicate with Himself and with others for the purpose of edification, fellowship and loving one another. But sometimes communication is hard. Sometimes it seems impossible to say anything edifying when our hearts are hurt. Perhaps we shouldn’t in those moments.

One thing I know God did not intend is for us to misuse the gift of language. Like every tool or thing in creation has a God-given purpose, so does our language.

Today it seems there is a carelessness to our communication. Almost like a knee jerk response, we can spew something out of our mouths that brings no glory to God and does not benefit those who listen. Curse words are in most movies, television, music – even spoken by those who profess Christ. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

People who mistakenly profess freedom in Christ yet let vile words flow out of their mouths at whim are deceived. They claim that people are judgmental or perhaps not “enlightened” or legalistic if they would say that cursing is wrong. Hmmm. Maybe a Top 10 David Letterman style list will help here . . .

Top Ten Reasons People Curse, Gossip, Slander, or Speak unkindly:

  1. The person does not fear God or believe His Word when God commands us to bless and not curse.
  2. The person is not respecting their audience and wants to use words to hurt.
  3. The person is not respecting themselves and is insecure.
  4. The person lacks intelligence, using the same word repetitively which does not mean what they think it means. :0)
  5. The person has forgotten why they are given the gift of communicating.
  6. The person thinks they are cool? No, probably not.
  7. The person lacks self control and is led by emotions rather than reason.
  8. The person is deceived and does not think cursing is a sin.
  9. The person did not receive a good education.
  10. The person wants to be part of our culture – they want to conform to society and their brain rewards them for such behavior (contributed by one of my daughters).

The point is, there is no valid excuse for cursing ever. Nada. Never. We can choose not to let them fly out of the mouth. If we will remember the original purpose of words, perhaps we will consider how to spur one another on and glorify God. We don’t know how long we will be able to tell the people in our lives how much we love and cherish them. Use words to bless, heal, minister and spread God’s Word – it never returns void and reverberates throughout all eternity.

LORD, thank You for giving us the ability to share with others our innermost thoughts. Please grant us grace to speak love and grace to those around us and to overcome the temptation to “vent” when we are hurt.

Scriptural Saturday: Inner Strength

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Inner strength is not built ~ it comes from within.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Sam 30:5-6

5 David’s two wives had been taken captive–Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail the Carmelite, Nabal’s widow. 6 David was very upset, for the men were thinking of stoning him; each man grieved bitterly over his sons and daughters. But David drew strength from the LORD his God.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Philippians 4:13

“I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.”


 

The pressures of this life can leave us flat out worn out. I can just imagine David being surrounded by a bunch of tough guys ready to stone him. Talk about stress. But He simply drew strength from God. How?

Scripture says he asked for the ephod and sought the face of God for direction and guidance. Back then, the Urim and Thummim (gemstones) were carried by the high priest of Israel on the ephod/priestly garments, which was used by the high priest to determine God’s will in some situations.

David knew his strength came only from God. Anyone who would sling a stone at a giant obviously relies on God instead of his own strength.

Many years later Paul, Timothy and the disciples followed suit. Nothing was deemed impossible if one relied on the Holy Spirit, given to us for strength and insight.

Feeling weak, discouraged, unable to do the task before you? Jesus understands and He walked the most difficult path of all with joy set before Him. Wow.

Just because a task or situation is difficult does not mean it has to steal our joy.

His strength is enough. Enough for day-to-day drama, illness, court, accidents, any trouble. We don’t use an ephod, but today we have the living Word of God we can run to for grace, wisdom and strength. Run to Him, friend. He is enough and His strength is all we will ever need.

Lord, thank You for your amazing grace and strength. Grant us a willing heart to cry out to you and to never give up.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Attention!

attention

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalms 78:1-2

1 “A well-written song by Asaph. Pay attention, my people, to my instruction! Listen to the words I speak! 2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.”

Proverbs 5:1-2

1 “My child, be attentive to my wisdom, pay close attention to my understanding, 2 in order to safeguard discretion, and that your lips may guard knowledge.”

Proverbs 4:20

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.”

“Someone get the phone”. “We have to leave now”. “Did You forget to feed the animals?” “Did you turn in the permission slip?” “Where are the medical immunization records?” “Did you pay the bills?” On and on this list of daily reminders could go. Meetings are added to planners and the email inbox just keeps filling up. Relationships require maintenance and sometimes intervention… or ATTENTION. With so many things vying for our time, we need to come up for air.

Our attention spans are a bit short with this world spinning at its current rapid pace. Add an over consumption of electronics to the ever growing responsibilities everyone juggles and we just might have a crisis on our hands.

But a clarion voice beckons us to draw near. That’s right. Drop our phones. Our planners. Maybe even our cleaning chores and rest. The God who created us with the intention to work also knew we would need rest.

His Spirit cries out to us through His word, trying to get us to pay attention to the desperate need of our inner soul – the very core of our being. To pay attention to the fact that we are being distracted from true devotion. To be aware of our need for His wisdom in every area of life.

When things are going well and we are on our typical cycle of constant action, He whispers to us to come and be still. When life comes crashing down, He draws us near to rest in Him. It seems counter-productive with our mindset of always being on the move, but at all times, our very life functions on the foundation of time spent with God.

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective. 

Pausing to seek God with no agenda other than reading His Word is where we can prioritize and reflect on the purpose of it all and ask our God what His mission is for us in this blip of time.

Sometimes we get so busy that we cram this precious time with God into just a few minutes a day. Maybe our busyness is ministry or a kind deed. Even then we need to be refueled with time spent with our God to be able to keep all our balls up in the air.

The tensions of life grab our attention and brings us to the simple need we all have – God. 

When we don’t take this time sometimes God has to get our attention through means that cause our crazy, chaotic world to stop.

Creating space in each day to focus and stop and consider His truth is what gives meaning and purpose in every moment we are given.

If a day is like our finances, we would tithe to God a tenth of our day – not as a legalistic measure, but as a dire need of our soul.

God, help us to pay attention and see what really matters in our daily tasks. May You be glorified in it all.

 

Worshipful Wednesday: Integrity is all in the Mind

jesus-is-our-integrity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus is our integrity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 101:1-3

1 “Of David. A psalm. I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. 3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”

Sometimes we can look over the landscape of life and wonder why so much evil is happening. When it happens in the church, we are often surprised. How do godly people acquiesce to wickedness? Very easily. Demonic influence and our flesh point us that direction naturally. But there is hope.

When we truly recognize the spiritual battle all around us, we see that the biggest battle will be that of truly living an authentic life of integrity. But integrity is not just our outward behavior.

Thoughts. The gate of our minds is the first place where we have decision after decision of what we will set our mind upon. Our thoughts matter – for they become our actions or, equally as pervasive – torment and distract us from a godly life – if they are not kept in line. But if our thoughts are brought under the authority of the Jesus filter, we can think clearly and recognize thought patterns that do not glorify Him.

Vain imaginations, prideful thoughts, thinking ill of others, dwelling on unrighteous deeds – all have to be brought underneath the LORDship of Jesus Christ. We are deceived if we believe that we can think a hateful thought about another person and be right in the eyes of God.

Action. But it is not enough just to refrain from evil. We are to be proactive and “Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8).

Content. What we feast our minds on is the largest impetus or detraction from integrity. God’s Word is living and active. Consistently meditating on His Word and applying it to our lives provides strength, conviction and enablement to walk in integrity.

Maintenance. Our thought life takes constant maintenance, we can never rest. But the beauty in feasting on God’s Word makes the maintenance of our minds a treasure trove and a delight. It does not have to become a daunting task of to dos where we think we could attain righteousness on our own. We just need to position ourselves to be soaking in God’s truth and ask Him to help us apply it to our lives.

Prayer. When we ask the God of this universe to help us live in accordance with His word, He honors a prayer like that. Even better – we can pray for those who appear to be against us. This is spiritual warfare that makes the enemy flee!

Humility. When we see the fruit of integrity in our lives, we cannot think it is us doing it. That sounds strange, huh? After all, we are seeking to do our part. But apart from God, there is nothing good in us. We are just yielding and letting Him live through us. Jesus is our integrity.

Fellowship. We truly were not created to be islands, isolated from others while we struggle and battle against resident and outward evil. We need to point one another to truth every single day, for the days are evil. This accountability is not to be judgmental, but caring enough to get up close and personal win sin is waging war and seeking to destroy people’s lives.

The life of integrity is a pleasant one, despite all the battles to get there. No need to hide anything, no fear in discovery, for all is exposed. Thank God that as we seek to walk uprightly with Him and make our mistakes along the way, that His forgiveness is eternal and His grace overwhelming. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even now we can choose to be people of integrity for God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for your mercy – new every single morning. Thank You that You walked a life of perfect integrity. Give us the mind of Christ and may the people of God be Kingdom-minded. Help us to not get involved in civilian affairs that distract us from our God-given purpose – knowing and enjoying You and making You known, oh my God.

Mundane Monday: Call Me Chief

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 1:15

“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–and I am the worst of them!”

Self righteousness is one of the slickest tools of the enemy. Pride at the root, we begin to think we are righteous of our own merit. Often unrecognizable as we see the flaws in everyone surrounding us except for our own, it is lethal to our walk with God and hurts those around us.

Paul is refreshing in his transparent view of himself. He did not boast of his righteousness, but instead called himself the worst sinner ever.  It seems kind of demeaning at first. After all, there is always someone worse than ourselves. But God does not grade on the curve and the beauty in recognizing nothing good in and of ourselves apart from the grace of God is not only seems truthful, but fitting.

It is in seeing my desperate condition before a Holy God that I see my need of His salvation. I cannot defend myself based on any deed or belief, for it was only His grace that enabled me to do or be anything that would please a perfect God in the first place.

Admitting we all are Chief in the sin department is at once condemnation and freedom. Gaining access to a relationship with our Holy God only happens through confession of sins and then sweet redemption when we choose to believe and accept His righteousness for our own.

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us. When falsely accused, we realize that although the accusation might not be true, there is something in us that we are guilty of even if we cannot see.

This truth has been such a blessing in my walk with Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation, even though we are guilty. For Christ fulfilled God’s perfect law for all eternity and we stand blameless before a Holy God. What good news this is!

Walking in this perfect freedom, we no longer have to fear, but we also can no longer judge our brothers and sisters, either. We do not know anyone else’s hearts and we all are equally chiefs of sin, too.

Lord, thank You for revealing our sins that we could be set free. Thank you for removing our sins as far as the east is from the west. 

Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!