Worshipful Wednesday: The God Who Gives Rest

Rest

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Rest is necessary to be productive.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 23:1-3

1 “A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. 3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation.”

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Those who suffer with autoimmune diseases know the drill well.  Awoken by sharp pain in the back of both sides of my head, my eyes hurt to open.  Carefully, I tried to ease into the day the best I can.  Trying to move through the suffering to a place of functioning, I contemplate how grateful I am for the times when I do not feel this bad.  But for now, I rest.

Rest.  That word that should be so welcoming, but not when there is work to do.  Until I realize that there is always work to do. Inconvenient interruption of suffering!   And yet, perhaps God brings pockets of rest when we need them most.

Today it was a stubborn migraine that would not dissipate, no matter what I tried.  I continued to work despite it, but the throbbing reminder was almost too much to bear.  It is in this place of pain that I cry out to my Abba Father and ask Him to grant me strength. He does me one better.  He offers me peace and makes me to lie down, basking in His love.

This is one of those weeks where there was too much on my plate, anyway.  I rose earlier to make sure I would get it all done, but today God canceled most of my commitments.  Kind of like a snow day when all of the obligations suddenly are postponed – only today it was the threat of tornadoes nearby.

As my children and I all huddled in the basement, I found myself in awe of God’s power and protection.  With a breath or a thought He can affect our world.  We have limits and our flesh speaks loudly when our frail bodies have reached them.  In humility, recognizing that I cannot do it all makes me rely on God and recognize my need for rest.

God is so good to help us momentarily step out of our busy little boxes and see our world the way God does.  Instead of seeing rest as inconvenient, we can create moments of rest as a priority and recognize the necessity of refueling to be able to finish the race he has marked out for us.

Lord, thank You for making me to lie down – even when I would not choose to.  You are not a God Who ruthlessly works us – You want to fellowship with us and give us a rest that restores our weary souls.

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Seize the Day!

Seize the Day blog picture

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Seize the moments God gives and use them for eternity, for they vanish like the wind.

Scripture:

Job 14:1-2, 5

“Man, born of woman, lives but a few days, and they are full of trouble. 2 He grows up like a flower and then withers away; he flees like a shadow, and does not remain. 5 Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is under your control; you have set his limit and he cannot pass it.”

Job paints a rather sober view of our existence, one colored by the turmoil he was encountering at the time.  I appreciate his honesty.  It is also helpful to know that our expectations should not be for a perfectly rosy life.  Such an expectation can lead to assured disillusionment.

This passage is just a snapshot, though, into the process God was guiding Job through. Job learned to appreciate his position before an Omnipotent God, but he had not yet learned that he was unworthy of any kindness from His Creator.

A lot of grappling with how a good God could allow suffering had to take place before Job would realize in the presence of God that He was unworthy.  Complaining about the deficient conditions he was in would not produce the righteous life God desired, but walking through trouble would change him into a grateful man of God who no longer took for granted the blessings God gave.

Although Job’s suffering is hard to hear, the lessons “caught” are precious.  Since we have a short life, we ought to live it well.  Climbing ladders for our own selfish gain or expecting a perfect trouble-free life will not be investing in eternity.  God help us to not waste the moments we have been given.

Although we live in a fallen world, the expectation of blessing is ours in Christ, but it is often veiled and hidden from our eyes.  We see blessings where God might see the blessings as stumbling blocks.  We see burdens where God sees a thing of beauty in the making.

Lord, You are all-knowing and know what is best.  Help us to live our lives down here in holy fear, grateful for every blessing and not straying from the mission you have given us – to know You and make You known.

Worshipful Wednesday: The God of the Afflicted

The Afflicted.png

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God chose to identify with the lowly and lifts them up.

Scripture:

Psalm 9:19-13

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. 11  Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12  For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. 13  Be gracious to me, O LordSee my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death.”

Psalm 10:14

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

Psalm 10:17

“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

Have you ever felt like no one notices you?  Or perhaps no one understands or knows the anguish of your soul?  Silently you suffer, wondering if anyone cares?  There is One Who knows – intimately – every worry or care that floods our minds, every burden we try to pretend is not there.  Jesus.

Every slight you feel, pain you endure – none of it is hidden from God’s keen view.  He longs for us to bring it to Him and lay it at His feet, but sometimes we think we can either bear the burden on our own or that he is not able to remove it from us.

it is not until we reflect on this God Who would choose to be counted as one of us – and not as a popular one of us, but as an afflicted one Himself, that we begin to see His ability to help us to do the same.

Joyfully He bore His cross.  How can that be?  Solely by the grace of God and the God Who helps us see past temporary burdens that can serve as stepping stones to be more like Him instead of enduring through some circumstance we regret.  May we be counted worthy to walk through suffering for the glory of God and not our own.

More than the praise or sympathy from any created person, we have the empathy of the Creator Himself, Who has truly been there and is able to completely understand and enable us to walk the same road he did – with victory.

Lord, thank you for showing us how to walk through this lift filled with burdens and cares.  Thank You for choosing to be afflicted, choosing to die for our sins so we could be saved.  May our light and momentary troubles be seen as just they are – temporary afflictions that lead us closer to you.

Mundane Monday: Living Between a Vision and Its Fulfillment

Waiting for the Vision

Genesis 12:1-2

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.'”

The chasm between the calling God has placed on our lives and the ultimate fulfilling of that vision can be rife with challenges and doubts.  To our limited understanding, it would seem that the all-powerful God would call us, then fulfill what He had spoken without a lot of delay or consequences.

But in His omniscient wisdom,

the process is often more important

than the receiving of the promise itself.

God is surely capable to crush everything that stands in the way of accomplishing what He has called us to, but in this fallen world the enemy is busy trying to undo what God has already finished.  We are stuck in this space called time that God is already outside of, fully knowing how everything will turn out.  Mind blowing.

Often I question whether God has really given me a vision or if it is myself trying to achieve a calling on my own.  I get confused and feel I cannot pray for success because I do not want it to be for my own glory.  It is then that I realize that a vision that is of God and for God will be tested and that testing process will refine the character needed to accomplish the task placed on my heart.

I don’t have to be perfect to be used by God.  I just have to yield to Him in the process and continue to press on in the work He has called me to.  Back to Abram.

God told him to go – he went.  It does not say that he labored over it.  He just obeyed.  He then promised incredible blessings, which, although Abram would be blessed, the goal was not just for Abram – it was for all people and ultimately “to exemplify divine blessing”.  Abram’s response?  To worship – even though He had not yet received the blessing.

When people look in our lives and see God’s blessings, it is not so we will be comfortable, but so people can see what being in a relationship with God is like.  When we are in between a promise and a blessing and face trials of all kinds, our worship in the midst can inspire many to do the same.

Abram was not spared hardship – he faced famine right after He worshiped God for His promise.  How we respond during the famine will often determine how long we stay there.  When Abram doubted God’s ability to protect he and his wife, God was faithful and protected them, anyway.  The world will see us fail, but the righteous man will rise again and again and continue to walk until God’s purposes are fulfilled in him.

When God places a vision in our hearts, we do not know how we will get there and many obstacles will stand in our way.  Abram faced famine, quarelling, war, family problems – but through it all he worshiped the God of the promise.  In the end, Abram became Abraham; his name and his life changed forever because of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise.

In His faithfulness, God will remind us of His calling and His promises.  He did not promise us a pain-free life, but He did promise to carry us through the challenges we face and that all of it has meaning for those Who would trust in Him.  In the process, on the other side of our calling – our nature is changed, too, for we can never be the same when we encounter the living God.

Lord, help us to trust You when the road seems long and burdensome.  You are faithful and You will complete the work You have begun in us.  Praise Your Name!

Worshipful Wednesday:Favored Favor

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The favor of God is our greatest reward.

Scripture:

Psalm 4:2-3

“You men, how long will you try to turn my honor into shame? How long will you love what is worthless and search for what is deceptive? (Selah) 3 Realize that the LORD shows the godly special favor; the LORD responds when I cry out to him.”

Psalm 5:12

“Certainly you reward the godly, LORD. Like a shield you protect them in your good favor.”

The thrill of receiving a gift is a surge of elation, a cherished favor; but sadly, it does not last.  Nope, the hard-earned new car or house, the pretty new outfit or exciting new relationship eventually become old.  The pursuit of the next new thing is futile, as the endless cycle of newness wearing off leaves us disillusioned, wanting for more.

The irony is that the things we often desire are not worth our time at all.  No one would choose a lump of coal for their stocking over a priceless, cherished gift, yet we daily are duped into pursuing things of lesser value compared to the riches God has in store for His children.

We might not at first recognize that we are esteeming worthless things, but that is often because we are deceived.  Blinded by the desires of our flesh, we long for things that temporarily satisfy us while God has riches beyond our greatest imagination.

Often we fall short of receiving God’s best because we are impatient or do not trust in what we cannot readily see.  Like the rich man who yearned for the comfort that Lazarus had after the sorrows on this earth, we have a choice right now to put our trust in the future hope that God has for us and not look only for rewards that this world offers.

To love what is worthless when the King of kings offers Himself, instead, is perhaps the saddest deception of all.  He longs to have us look up and worship the only One of worth, Himself, and to bless us, but we choose things that do not last and ultimately our own destruction apart from the grace of God.

What is this favor He longs to give?  We have an audience with the Almighty Creator.  Not just an audience, but One Who hears us and acts on our behalf.  He is our Shield, our Protector, the Lover of our souls.  His favor is eternal salvation for those who recognize and receive the gift.  The highest favor, indeed.

Lord, help us to invest our lives in what matters – pursuing You.  May we not waste the precious gift of life on worthless endeavors, but pursue knowing You above all things.

Thoughtful Thursday: Possessive Possessions

LoveSelfishness

Inspirational thought of the day:

All that we think we own we cannot keep and it is not ours, after all.

Scripture:

Job 1:21

He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed!”

Ah.  The American Dream.  Much that is included in this utopic hope is good.  Freedom.  Peace.  Happiness.  But part of the American Dream is tied up in materialistic goals.

Somehow happiness becomes equated with owning things.  Lots of them. Or they own us.  A home that is much larger than necessary, nice things, a perfect family, involvement in a zillion things.

I confess, I bought it, too.  Still do.  But God continues to lovingly pry my fingers open to release it all to Him.

There is a comfort in owning things and having things settled, without fear of losing them.  Yet the human condition is that there is nothing certain in this life.  How does one function in an insecure world void of anything lasting?  Our future hope.

As devastating as it is when we lose something we cherished, or worse yet, a loved one passes away who is irreplaceable, there is an inner joy kindling with the inexpressible joy that we will have in Heaven when we no longer long for anything or anyone and have no fear that we will ever lose what God gives us.

Eternity is in the hearts of all men.  A desperate want for something more than what surrounds us.  We pacify this want with what we own or our earned place in this world, but that is only temporary.  Why would God create such a condition for man to live in?

Because we were not made just for this world.  We were made for eternity with Him.  We are passing through down here and it is so very hard for us to remember when things are given and stripped away that we have something far greater, beyond comprehension that Christ has already given to us.

What we are given is not for us, after all, but for His glory.

We are in the waiting room right now, waiting for our complete blessing in Him in Heaven.  While we wait, we temporary hold onto what God has placed in our lives with open hands, palm up – worshiping Him when He gives and when He takes, for He allows it all for our good and His glory.

Lord, help us to be filled with gratitude for everything You allow into our lives, even when things don’t make sense.  Give us Your eternal perspective and help us to glorify You in it all.

Mundane Monday: Unruly Rulers

Steward What You Do Have - unruly ruler

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God has given us everything from provisions to positions, yet still owns and rules it all.  

Scriptures:

Genesis 1:26-27

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.’ 27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”

Genesis 2:18

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.'”

No one likes to be told they have to follow someone else’s rules. Ugh. Our flesh in this culture cries out, “no one can be the boss of me”. That’s our nature. God made us to rule, after all. But in what manner?

Man and woman were both made to rule over God’s creation according to His boundaries, but the tendency of mankind is to add or subtract rules to define our own boundaries to suit our desires.

We were to be stewards of all He had given, and within that work was a blessing – our enjoyment. But we can easily forget that it all belongs to Him. The One Who gives us the right to rule is still the owner of it all.

Something innate within us wants to own things, but in God’s economy, He shares it all with us freely.  While He was demonstrating love and generosity to Adam and Eve, they were pursuing their own glory and wants instead of His.  Their rulership became all about them and was no longer blessed.

He knew all that they needed, provided food and even provided for their need for fellowship – woman was made as a companion for man.  With such blessings, why would they ever want for more?

Both of them were present when they chose to violate God’s law.  Both confused the purpose of the role of dominion and what they ruled over was therefore cursed.  Even their fellowship would never be the same.  A sad ending, if that were the end of the story.

In Christ, we can see the impact of the curse in our own lives and resist evil, but it is a battle we will have to fight our entire lives.  Our flesh gets wearied by this continual internal and external conflict, but it is a battle worth fighting.  Even though the curse is evident all around us, God uses even curses for good in our lives.

When things are not perfect, the curses in our lives can be a catalyst for seeking God and seeing our need of Him.  The initial punishment meted out by a Holy, righteous, perfect Judge ends up as a blessing to those who die to self and seek God’s glory and not their own.  What an amazing God.

It is ironic that the pursuit of wisdom would lead to their demise.  A pursuit of wisdom for our own glory bears cursed fruit, but loving wisdom in order to glorify God bears eternal fruit.  If we can see our rule over what God has given us as a position of servitude instead of a position of power, we begin to see the wisdom in God’s plan and reverse the curse.

Lord, thank You for Your kind provision.  You have blessed us beyond measure and we still always want for more.  Help us to be faithful stewards and to care for everything You have placed in our hands.  May we be content and grateful, never forgetting that everything we have is Yours and for Your glory. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Seeing Deep!

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happythanksgivingphotos.net

Proverbs 11:25

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”

Hebrews 13:16

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for stopping by today!  For those of you who were joining in on the season of thankfulness and counting the days until Thanksgiving, some of you might be asking . . . why did she stop on day 18?  Admittedly, I got busy.

My church culminated a 40-day prayer challenge with a 24-hour fast and prayer event that I helped to organize. It was beyond what we could have imagined and God moved in powerful ways.  Each day I have been bursting to share the revelations God has shown me during this season, and today I want to share something special God did this week which has left me humbled and grateful, overwhelmed at His goodness.

Shopping for groceries to prepare the Thanksgiving meal to bring to family in another state, I was in a flurry walking through Wal-Mart, thoughts swimming through my mind of how I could fit in time to make the meal, work and finish planning worship services.

Suddenly a manager interrupted my thought process and motioned for me to stand in another line.  He insisted that he wanted me in that line, that he was the manager and had the authority to do so.

Less wait for me, so I was grateful.  The woman in front of me was ringing out and then frantically realized she did not have enough money for her order.  Somewhere in the store she had dropped a $20 bill.  I’ve been there before – walking up to the register with sweaty palms and anxiety flowing through my body, wondering if my debit card will be rejected or not and the ensuing shame felt as people watch to see if I will have enough to pay.

Suddenly the Lord put on my heart to ask how much she needed and then prompted me to offer to pay the difference.  “You don’t know me”, she said.  Before I could think, the words came out of my mouth, “But Jesus does”.    She began to weep.  In that moment, it really was not about me helping her, but about a God who sees and puts people where he wants them to send a message of His love.

She had just told God that she could not do it anymore – her faith was low, she felt like Job.  God saw her and sent encouragement when she needed it most.  Awesome God.

The amazing thing about being willing to be used by God is that when you are blessing others, you are blessed, as well.  There is something in the sacrifice of giving that brings an inner joy to both the giver and the recipient.  Indeed, it is a miracle, God in the midst, working through people for His glory and their benefit.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, may the gratitude we feel from God’s bounty in our direction become an action of expressing blessing for others from the overflow of God to us.  What a beautiful celebration, indeed.

On this amazing day, when we consider and celebrate a holiday to pause and reflect on individual and corporate blessings, I am most thankful for Jesus, that God saves us and allows us to know Him and then is willing to use us as part of His plan to share His love with the world.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thank you, God, for knowing the number of hairs on our head, for counting every tear, for noticing our pain and for never leaving us or forsaking us.  I love you, Lord!

~Devoted to the precious sister in Christ whom God had our paths cross.  Keep the faith.  He is enough.

Truthful Tuesday: Blessed to Bless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Sam 5:12

“David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that he had elevated his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

2 Sam 7:8, 18-22

“So now, say this to my servant David: ‘This is what the LORD of hosts says: I took you from the pasture and from your work as a shepherd to make you leader of my people Israel.  18 King David went in, sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you should have brought me to this point?  19 And you didn’t stop there, O LORD God! You have also spoken about the future of your servant’s family. Is this your usual way of dealing with men, O LORD God?   20 What more can David say to you? You have given your servant special recognition, O LORD God!   21 For the sake of your promise and according to your purpose you have done this great thing in order to reveal it to your servant.  22  Therefore you are great, O LORD God, for there is none like you! There is no God besides you! What we have heard is true!”

Overcome by God’s goodness, David poured out his heart in a moment of beautiful abandon.  He recognized God’s blessings and realized that he was not worthy.  His response was so beautiful – worship in action.  He dedicated to God fully what was given to Him, ruled in humility and righteousness, showing favor and honoring even his former enemy’s crippled son, Mephibosheth.  Ultimately, he saw that God’s blessing was not for Him, but for God’s people, Israel.

He was wealthy and in the highest position of the land, but he chose to identify with and respect the lowly.  Sounds a lot like his Heavenly Father.  Demonstrating kindness and mercy, God honored David further, providing protection, favor and victory everywhere he went.

It’s a funny thing about blessing.  When we give away what we are given, we receive even more because we cannot out give God.  Do we perceive all that He has done for us?  Probably impossible to do so, but contemplate for a minute the gift of life and what He has given us.  Once we begin to see a glimpse of what He has bestowed upon us physically and spiritually, the key is not only in recognizing all of the blessings in our lives, but in not expecting them.

David had already learned the lesson that God was Holy and although He loves us, we should not take for granted His favor and become casual with His requirements.  The ark of God was not a trinket to be handled and God’s presence not something to be casual with, either.

What we have was not ours in the first place, but hanging onto those blessings is where idolatry can slip in if we let it. Each blessing, once acknowledged, becomes even more when it is surrendered back to God to be used how He sees fit.  Along with David, we have an opportunity to see that what we are given is not about us at all, but about those who God brings along our path.

David knew all too well what hardship was, which also produced a sincere gratitude for the tremendous blessings God brought about.  When we remember what we were when He called us, that makes us all the more grateful for each blessing He has bestowed; a beautiful offering given back to the One Who gave it to us in the first place.

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way.