Worshipful Wednesday: Surprised by Joy

Worship

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The very act of worship when we don’t feel like it is where God takes our act of faith and creates joy within us.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 100:2-3

“Worship the Lord with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing! Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

One of the first things satan wants to steal from us when we are saved is our joy. Nothing as potent at killing the message of the Gospel as joyless believers wandering around this earth telling everyone they need to be saved. Who wants that kind of salvation?

We all want joy. We want to be able to celebrate this gift of life but get dragged down by obstacles and circumstances as if they were supposed to bring us joy in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – to be human is to feel – and life hurts sometimes. But joy does not have to be connected to that feeling of disappointment. It is when our life is in the gift instead of the Giver of those gifts that we forget our original source of joy.

I am not talking about living an inauthentic life where we go around with a plastic smile saying everything is great when it isn’t. But joy in the LORD isn’t dependent upon our circumstances. That would not be real joy, after all. Just temporary happiness.

So how do we access this joy when life just doesn’t feel very joyful? Worshiping God. With joy. Not the answer you were looking for? Does it seem impossible to worship with joy when you don’t have any? But the very act of worship when we don’t feel like it is where God takes our act of faith and creates joy within us. For it is what we were made to do.

If worship is a sacrifice of praise, then it is in the moment of resisting our flesh and worshiping God anyway that we rise above our sorrows and discover a real abiding joy in Jesus.

When we focus on all our concerns and burdens, it is a joy killer. But when we come to worship God, remember all God has done for us and focus on Who He is, joy just invades the soul. You cannot contain it. Try it.

Each Wednesday I want to share a cover of a worship song at noon EDT on my Seeing Deep Facebook page from our worship set that captures what God has placed on my heart here. This week it is: “No Longer Slaves”. If that does not bring joy, I don’t know what will. We are no longer a slave to fear – we are His sons and daughters! We are no longer lost, but found. We are surrounded with God’s love and will enjoy all eternity with Him. Joy indeed.

Worship God with joy today. You are loved with an everlasting love that has no end. The joy of the LORD is your strength.

Oh Lord, we worship You! Set our gaze on You – for You are lovely. Transform our worries into worship and cause us to rise above it all and be filled with the abundant joy You provide.

Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

series (1)

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!

Sabbath Reflections: Nation on its Knees

Prayer Can Move the Heart of God and Man

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Scriptures:

Psalms 99:4

“The King is strong; he loves justice. You ensure that legal decisions will be made fairly; you promote justice & equity in Jacob.”

Proverbs 21:1

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD like channels of water; he turns it wherever he wants.”

As we near the culmination of a lively political race in just a little over a couple of months, the LORD reminded me while I was praying for both candidates that He is much bigger than our election. He not only controls the outcome, but is our great, sovereign God over all. He rules the entire universe, every government, every people, every land – and is able to affect the heart of our next President. It is to that end that I will pray.

Our nation needs more now than ever a people committed to pray for her. May we fill the next eleven weeks with intercession for our nation and for both candidates to turn their hearts back to God. Will you join me? We each play a key role in the next election – praying – and prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Oh God, this great land is Yours and Yours alone. Help us to not forget that truth. Help our people to turn from sin and to see Your worth is far above the worship of lesser things. Please draw our nation back to You and cause our leaders to bow to no other God but You. Move in the hearts of our Presidential nominees and help them to see their need of salvation. Your will be done. We trust You, Lord, to place Your person in office.

Truthful Tuesday: Conditional Praise

It is God's long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 44:16-23

16 “We will not listen to what you claim the LORD has spoken to us! 17 Instead we will do everything we vowed we would do. We will sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the goddess called the Queen of Heaven just as we and our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders previously did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and had no troubles. 18 But ever since we stopped sacrificing and pouring out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven, we have been in great need. Our people have died in wars or of starvation. 19 The women added, “We did indeed sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven. But it was with the full knowledge and approval of our husbands that we made cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her.” 20 Then Jeremiah replied to all the people, both men and women, who responded to him in this way. 21 “The LORD did indeed remember and call to mind what you did! He remembered the sacrifices you and your ancestors, your kings, your leaders, and all the rest of the people of the land offered to other gods in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. 22 Finally the LORD could no longer endure your wicked deeds and the disgusting things you did. That is why your land has become the desolate, uninhabited ruin that it is today. That is why it has become a proverbial example used in curses. 23 You have sacrificed to other gods! You have sinned against the LORD! You have not obeyed the LORD! You have not followed his laws, his statutes, and his decrees! That is why this disaster that is evident to this day has happened to you.”

This is one of those passages in scripture where I want to push the pause button and help Jeremiah out. (As if I could add to the revelation God already spoke through Him). Ok, I would have nothing to offer, but I would so desperately want to persuade them to see what they are doing.

But deception is a difficult thing to break through. When we let our flesh rise in influence, we begin to protect it and its decisions. Comfort begins to be the popular god of the day and we are no longer spirit led, but just led according to what “seems good”. Hmm. This philosophy sounds familiar.

Although the thought of making cakes in the form of a queen and worshiping them seems ridiculous to me, I have certainly fashioned things in my own mind and life as being temporarily more important than serving and obeying God. It just felt better – for the moment.

But what sticks out to me this time, other than just the standard rebellion/punishment/repentance cycle is that God’s people were making their praise of God conditional on God blessing them. They failed to see that their present circumstances were their own doing.

Poor Jeremiah. He must have just been like, “Really?” You wanna play patty-cake and worship a false “god-queen” and go back to Egypt – the very place God delivered you from? How ironic. But sometimes the familiar has a pull on us that is hard to break. Sometimes we forget the pain of that pull, too, and just want to do whatever seems easiest.

We, too, can make our praise conditional on God blessing us, and not recognize that our suffering is a result of our own unfaithfulness. I know that sounds harsh, but ultimately there is such liberty in understanding that we deserve nothing from God, for we were His enemies. Choices we made in the past might still be reaping consequences, or perhaps just being in a fallen world alone creates enough havoc in our lives. But even at that place of sobering reality, there is grace.

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it. Let that truth sink in. That’s right – even the nitty gritty ugly stuff that we see no good purpose in our lives – even that detestable moment or season that we wish we could just wipe out of our minds – was meant for our good and His glory.

Oh that we would always see clearly and understand that we were made for something more – Someone more – higher than any endeavor or achievement this world offers. We are called to live for One.

Lord, help us to live for You alone. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind to understand how very great You are and how worthy our lives are when they are spent pursuing You, no matter what this life brings.

Thoughtful Thursday: Persuasion of Another Kind

Persuasion Graphic Seeing Deep

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Perhaps the art of persuasion is not about getting our way, but about healing and encouraging those around us, instead.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 16:21-24

“The one who is wise in heart is called discerning, and kind speech increases persuasiveness. 22 Insight is like a life-giving fountain to the one who possesses it, but folly leads to the discipline of fools. 23 A wise person’s heart makes his speech wise and it adds persuasiveness to his words. 24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

I noticed her heavy spirit as she rang in my food order. Looming over her like a wet blanket, sadness enveloped her but I longed to inject hope and make her smile somehow.

I thought about how I could identify with her and shared some words of encouragement. Without being aware of it, I was seeking to persuade her to feel joy.

How about you? In need of encouragement today? I hope you know that you matter. More than that, you are the apple of God’s eye and He adores you.

Words like this just make my soul sing.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all spoke this way to one another consistently, and just as importantly, spoke to ourselves that way, too?

My inner voice sees my flaws loud and clearly. So does God, but He bids us to look up in His sweet face and whispers life to our souls – persuading and motivating us toward Holiness. What an example of the best use of persuasion – the Creator of our souls wooing us back to who we were meant to be.

Words fly at a rapid pace in this day and age, whether spoken or written. It can be easy for those words to be unchecked, given the sheer volume. But the intentionality of the word, “makes” in the scripture above helps us to realize that we can pause and check ourselves. I am thankful for that. Even when we make a mistake in a moment of passion, we can speak words in humility and love to encourage one we might have hurt with our words.

The more time passes on, we can think we have achieved a new level of communication, but the simple truths presented in this Scripture are refreshing and timeless. Kindness is needed today, and the road to kind speech is paved with wisdom. 

The purpose of our speech should be redemptive and persuasive toward righteousness. This goal can be difficult when our tendency is to be self-focused, but as we seek wisdom our thoughts are transformed.

It has been said that the art of persuasion is getting our way, but perhaps a more admirable goal of persuasive communication is healing and encouragement to those around us. Can we affect someone so they have hope and a different godly perspective?

Words are powerful. Every word we utter ultimately stems from our thoughts and our heart. When we speak life to those around us, sweet words that build up and not tear down, our words heal the soul and might even affect one’s physical health or their eternity. Speak kindly – someone around you might need it more than we know.

Oh God, thank You that you comfort us and continually encourage us in our walk with You. Help us to speak words of life persuading those around us to hope in our living God. 

Truthful Tuesday: Worthy of Worship

A casual acquaintance with God cannot reveal the deeper things of God. and play

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

A casual acquaintance with God cannot reveal the deeper things of God.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Samuel 7:18, 23-26

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? 23 Who is like your people, Israel, a unique nation on the earth? Their God went to claim a nation for himself and to make a name for himself! You did great and awesome acts for your land, before your people whom you delivered for yourself from the Egyptian empire and its gods. 24 You made Israel your very own people for all time. You, O LORD, became their God. 25 So now, O LORD God, make this promise you have made about your servant and his family a permanent reality. Do as you promised, 26 so you may gain lasting fame, as people say, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel!’ The dynasty of your servant David will be established before you.


Dwelling on the truth of who God is overwhelms us but brings us to a new revelation where we can know Him more. I was wrecked again this morning, finishing a worship song in the wee hours. What a glorious moment it is, seeking Him and finding Him. But it costs to get there.

Writing songs, blog posts and now a book comes from a place of deeper worship. A casual acquaintance with God cannot reveal the deeper things of God. But we often still try to achieve relationship apart from it. Our flesh just flat out resists God’s presence. Silly us. But our graceful God draws us back to Himself, anyway. So patient, so faithful.

In this new song I have been agonizing how to convey how worthy God is. I know it sounds common – we all have probably said that God is worthy at some point. But have we meant it? Have we understood fully the worth that is truly due His Holy, mighty Name?

Although I sincerely worshiped Him this morning and hopefully reached my goal of provoking others to pause in awe of God’s worth, in reality I know I have only scratched the surface.

His greatness cannot be confined on a page or contained in a lyric. His Holiness impossible to accurately convey, who can reveal God’s splendor that we might adore Him fully?

Contemplating what was meant by “Lord of hosts”, I melted into wonder and joy. Our self-existent God Who needs no one or no thing chose to call Himself a Redeemer. Who would redeem enemies who don’t recognize your worth or the magnitude of your sacrifice –  God slaying Himself for our gain? Oh God, I am undone.

He is the universal Ruler over every force – all the Hosts of Heaven and everything underneath. Why would he notice me? That’s just Who He is. All good. Selfless. Gracious. Forgiving. Lover and Healer of our souls. Worthy of worship.

Lord, I worship You. You are too great for my mind to fully grasp, but I worship You, nonetheless. You are our awesome, Holy, most gracious God. You are worthy.

 

 

Mundane Monday: Friend in High Places

In High Places

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Walking with God does not mean we will not suffer, but it does mean He has a purpose in that suffering and will cause us to ultimately overcome.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 20:10-12

10 “I hear many whispering words of intrigue against me. Those who would cause me terror are everywhere! They are saying, “Come on, let’s publicly denounce him!” All my so-called friends are just watching for something that would lead to my downfall. They say, “Perhaps he can be enticed into slipping up, so we can prevail over him and get our revenge on him. 11 But the LORD is with me to help me like an awe-inspiring warrior. Therefore those who persecute me will fail and will not prevail over me. They will be thoroughly disgraced because they did not succeed. Their disgrace will never be forgotten. 12 O LORD who rules over all, you test and prove the righteous. You see into people’s hearts and minds. Pay them back for what they have done because I trust you to vindicate my cause.” 

Jeremiah is such an encouragement to me. That might seem like an ironic statement. When someone was known as a “weeping prophet” and no one listened to His prophesies, it would seem his life was a failure. But God.

Jeremiah was faithful to what God called him to, relentless in adhering to the calling of God on his life, and pressed in when affliction besieged him. Jeremiah loved the people so much that he initially stayed behind in Judah instead of going into Exile where God promised blessing. Even though it meant he would suffer with them, Jeremiah had to be with His people. His reward? Persecution.

When He obeyed God and said a tough word, he was thrust in a cistern of mud to die. But God. When he was thrust in a dungeon, God saw. And when he was scourged because he spoke the truth, God had not forgotten him. Time and time again he was persecuted, but God. 

Form the life of Jeremiah we see that walking with God does not mean that we will not suffer, but it does mean He has a purpose in that suffering and will cause us to ultimately overcome.

Man thinks he has power. He thinks he can control people and positions, but ultimately God is the only One in full control. It might look like we are forgotten or like being righteous or following God leads us to suffering. But when the chips are down and it appears that defeat is looming over our lives, we can be like Jeremiah and look to God as our hero. Remembering God’s promises means we might lose some battles, but we will have the ultimate victory.

Lord, thank You that we can count on You at all times. Help us to trust in You and to be faithful even when our ministry of the Gospel is not well received.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity is Knocking

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

 

Luke 8:10

“He said, ‘You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.'”

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?”

Don’t worry, I won’t tell a cheesy knock knock joke. Had you wondering, though, huh?

Opportunity is a funny thing. We long for opportunities but often do not even recognize them. We hope to be used by God to do something amazing but miss astounding promise all around us, dubbed as “ordinary”.

We can feel it in the thump of our heartbeat. Hear it in the soul’s cry. Sense it with our Spirit. Somewhere within us is a sense of a calling. Opportunity is knocking on the door of our soul – wondering if we hear our Master’s call for us to see the longing around us.

The moment we are awakened to hear and to understand God’s word, we are on mission. Entrusted with secrets that God has revealed, do we pretend not to see the needs, the hurts, the deadness in their eyes? Maybe in our own?

Growing up, I always felt special when someone trusted me with a precious secret or a position of leadership. Those who Christ has revealed His Gospel are the most blessed people on the face of the earth. We hold the keys to salvation and the opportunity to share it with lost people who we once were identified with.

The resounding knock stirs our souls to act on the knowledge and insight we have been given. The world’s din can try to silence the relentless needs and opportunities, but if we listen carefully, we will hear the knocks and answer. The souls God has called us to reach around us are counting on it.

Lord, help us to hear the needs around us and to listen attentively to Your word so that we might share what is on Your heart.

Truthful Tuesday: Trust Me!

Trust Me

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

And when the mountains ahead seem too high to overcome and our problems loom large and are not solved, He still says, “Trust me”.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 78:22

22 Because they did not have faith in God, and did not trust his ability to deliver them. 23 He gave a command to the clouds above, and opened the doors in the sky. 24 He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Man ate the food of the mighty ones. He sent them more than enough to eat. 27 He caused meat to rain on them like dust and winged birds as the sand of the sea… 32 Despite all this, they continued to sin, and did not trust him to do amazing things.

The Israelites were so forgetful. One moment they would see the hand of God in mighty ways and the next they doubted Him completely. Despite the LORD moving and accomplishing amazing miracles, the Israelites soon forgot and whined about the next problem life sent their way. We could stand in judgment if we did not have the very same plank gouging our eyes.

In this capsule of time, we tend to live in the moment.

God knows this. He knows we are flesh and continues to pursue us in this cycle of failure, conviction, repentance and redemption. Thank God He does!

If we perceive God’s activity in our lives, we enjoy that moment until the next significant distraction comes our way.

Sorry to paint our condition so bluntly. It is not that I am trying to lack grace but instead to display this magnificent grace that is given for all.

We cannot deny it – we all have a short term memory when it comes to acknowledging all that God has done for us, and we tend to distrust Him when troubles come. But in that same moment when we forget who we are in Christ and Who He is, His grace is  greater.

He moves through His word, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and in our circumstances to open our eyes to our blindness and draw us back to Himself. Revealing the counterfeit of the world’s promises that we are looking to, He is whispering all the while, “Trust Me”.

When we breathe a sigh of relief as a speeding car misses ours narrowly, He says, “trust me”. When a check arrives in the mail when we did not know where our next meal was coming from, he says, “trust me”. When our child recovers from a deadly illness, He says, “trust me”. And when the mountains ahead seem too high to overcome and our problems are not solved, He still says, “Trust me”.

We can tend to see our heroic God as the One to solve all of our problems, but He wants a deeper relationship with us than that. Instead of an immature faith that just wants to receive, He leads us to the revelation that we were made for His pleasure and He delights in us.

When the chips are down, He is our Comforter. When we lose something that He gave us in the first place, He is our Healer. In this chaotic fallen world, He is our strength and the One we run to.

We can trust the One who gave us our very breath and every single thing that we have, if we recognize this truth and see we don’t have a right to any of it. When we open our hands and offer it all in worship to Him, we are doing what we were created to do. Our very lives are His, whatever misadventure or adventure they contain – and He is walking through each moment with us.

Lord, help us to trust You more and more with each moment You have given. Grant us understanding and help us to deliver Your faithful message to others so they, too, can trust You!

Mundane Monday: Stubborn Hope

 

Stubborn Hope (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The hope we have in Christ is sure and steady; a never failing, firm foundation.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Sleepy eyes and Mondays go together like peanut butter and jelly. It can take awhile to get back into the swing of things, but reality and deadlines hit us square in the eyes whether we like it or not.

But here we have eyes of another sort being opened. A revelation of our souls to know the hope of the amazing salvation and eternal rewards that God has for His people. What an encouragement on a Monday, right?

Problem is that our work weeks and lives can be daunting, and hope is often deflated or crushed when challenges arise.

But this hope does not depend on any surrounding circumstances.

No, it is a fact predetermined in Heaven. A quiet stirring in our souls, reminding us that this is not our home. This stubborn hope looks out at the landscape of life and smiles inwardly at the promise within.

We are called to this hope. More than that, this hope is a certainty that God will use all things for our good. This hope is the knowledge that every wrong will be righted. This hope is that God sees and redeems. This hope is that our salvation has been achieved forever and cannot be stolen.

Our hearts can be strengthened to carry on if we will allow our hearts to focus on God’s hope instead of focusing on the hopes the world has, which are merely temporal.

Finding this hope might seem like an esoteric enigma, but it is so simple we often stumble over it. Searching for hope in people leaves us bankrupt, but searching in His living Word gives us a living hope that never fades, reserved for all who believe in Jesus.

Lord, thank You that You have not left us without hope. No matter what happens in this life, we have You, our treasure – both now and for all eternity – to guide us.