Thoughtful Thursday: The God in the Pit

The Pit

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Don’t imagine the future without God.

Scripture:

Job 3:25-26

“For the very thing I dreaded has happened to me; and what I feared has come upon me. 26 I have no ease, I have no quietness; I cannot rest; turmoil has come upon me.”

When I was a child, I feared death; I guess most people do.  As I grew up, more things were added to my list of things that I “hoped I never had to go through”.  I even made a deal with God on a few of them.  Just a tip – don’t ever do that.

To fear or be anxious is human, but the person of faith need not remain there.

The shock of going from such tremendous blessing like Job had to the complete opposite is difficult to bear.  Our expectations are dashed because we somehow tied God’s goodness to our blessing.  The unknown provokes a humility in us all when we are not sure how we could handle whatever might come our way.  Couple that with the thought that pain or suffering might be attached to a potential unknown and fear can quickly be apparent in us all.

This is where the gift of faith comes in.  Imagining my future apart from God’s grace to escort me through all of life’s valleys and mountains is like imagining myself apart from my very life and hope.

If I had known all that I would walk through almost eight years ago now, I would not have believed it and possibly would have tried to avoid it, yet God had me walk through it, anyway.

The verse above is palpable to me – it almost hurts to read it.  I am brought back to the moment when I lost twenty pounds from dread and anxiety and fear gripped me like cement, heavy upon my heart.  My vision was affected, there was no feeling in my feet or hands, people shunned us, we lived with a stigma where dread and sorrow were pervasive. The thing I had asked the LORD to not ever allow me or my children to experience was upon me and my household.  Where was God?  Right there beside me.

Passionately crying out to God from a fragile, broken heart was part of what set me free from all that had bound me before.

My happiness was no longer tied to a shallow faith based on perfect surroundings.  It was hidden in Him.

When we feel forgotten because this life is not Heaven and the corruption of sin and its consequences vanquishes us, in that lonely place is One Who chose that suffering we sought to avoid.

Turmoil is a dark pit that seems insurmountable, but within that pit is a closeness to God that we would likely not find in all the blessings the world offers.  For it is in that crucible that we hold on tightly to the promises of God and realize the perfect comfortable life we wanted before was never a worthy goal in the first place.

Lord, thank You for revealing our need of You.  Help us to cling to You in blessings and hardships and to trust you with what lies ahead.  You are faithful.  Always.

Worshipful Wednesday:Favored Favor

gods-favor-550x320 - 2

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.

Mundane Monday: Oh, Mercy!

Mercy Seat

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Costly mercy should never be casually accepted.

Scriptures:

Romans 3:25

“God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed.”

Hebrews 9:3-5

“And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. 4 It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail.”

Romans 2:4

“Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?”

Some of us need a big dose of God’s mercy on Monday mornings.  That and a large cup of Joe.  In the hamster wheel of life, we are all running about, aiming to achieve whatever objective that day holds.

Yet in the day-in and day-out of our busy lives, we receive mercy upon mercy and do not perceive it.

This lavish mercy, covering our every sin, was planned from the beginning and cost our Savior’s life.  Mercy for past sins, mercy for present and future ones, too.  Mercy to live a different way.

The mercy seat was the lid on top of the ark where the very presence of God would sit and give mercy when the blood of atonement was sprinkled there.

This is so graphic for our delicate ears to hear, for we are far removed from the fact that our sin brought death.  Blood.  Shed on our behalf.  Not so we would continue in sin, but that we would marvel at such forgiveness and in response die to our sin at such a great sacrifices given on our behalf.

Now this mercy seat is represented by Jesus, Who covers our sins and passes over them by His own righteous blood.  Even  more amazing to consider, this mercy seat is available to us at all times.

We do not have to be priests, entering with trepidation and bells attached to the hem of our robe in case we should die in the presence of a Holy God.  No, we, normal, sinful beings can enter the presence of the living God and find mercy.

May this truth help us to be amazed at You, oh God, on our ordinary days when we look only to this life for meaning.  Arrest our hearts with Your Faithful Love and help us to live our Mondays in awe of our merciful God!

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. 

Twelve Days of Christmas: Merry Christmas from Seeing Deep!

Jesus is the gift

2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

On this Christmas Day after an extremely busy week, I wanted to take a few minutes to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Last night culminated the end of a very hectic week, one that crowded out the finishing of the Twelve Days of Christmas countdown.  Nonetheless, as I reflected on this amazing gift of Christ, thinking upon twelve of the things I have been most grateful for that He has given to us has blessed me this Christmas season, and I pray it has you, too.

So, there are a few more gifts to unwrap in this Twelve Days of Christmas wrap up . . . I left off with Day 7 . . .

Day 8 – the Holy Spirit

 

John 4:16

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Often neglected in our places of worship is the Holy Spirit, indwelling all who have called on the Name of God and been saved.

There can be a lot of confusion about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and whether some have ceased and some continue, but in the fray of our confusion we miss the simplicity of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

What a gift to have God come and fill us to overflowing!  He is our friend, our confidant, our Helper in time of need.  Holy and convicting us of sin and righteousness in our lives, He offers us a place of refuge within ourselves.

Lord, thank You for the deposit of Your Holy Spirit in our lives.  Thank You for never leaving us and for continuing to speak to us through Your Word and Your precious Holy Spirit.

Day 9 – Provision

Philippians 4:12, 19

” I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

It hurts to be in a place of need.  So often we try to cover over that hurt or fill that longing with something that will “provide” temporary fulfillment, but El Roi, the God Who sees all, knows what we need before we even ask Him.

There is a sweet contentment that is learned when we recognize that the provision we are seeking might not be what we need, after all.  Fear is replaced with a simple trust in our God Who provides sovereignly what we need when we need it.

The times of hurt, of not being able to go to the doctor or fix a car or maybe even buy groceries – might make us feel like we are fogotten, but not so with God.  These times are instead gifts that cause us to look to our LORD to meet our every need through Jesus Christ.

At Christmas, we anticipate receiving and giving gifts.  Sometimes we can be disappointed, when we had hoped for something different.  Then God opens our eyes and instead of complaining over what we have not been given, we find a joy in Christ when we love and thank Him when we don’t get what we want.

Lord, You are sovereign – all knowing!  Thank You for every gift You have given us, that we often take for granted.  Thank You, too, for the gifts that You have not given to us, showing us our need of You.

Day 10 – Justice

Isaiah 30:18

“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

Job 16:19-20

“Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.  My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.”

Being falsely accused and having to defend myself in court will remain one of the most horrific moments of my life, but even in those moments, when it seemed justice was no where to be found, I had an advocate in Heaven.  He saw me and every tear He counted.

Whether we win or not down here, we ultimately win if we are in Christ.  He is our ever-present help in time of need and for all eternity we will not receive the justice we deserved – the condemnation of our guilty souls.

Sweet liberty is ours in Jesus.  What a gift His justice is for those Who recognize the gift of salvation and receive it.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy, triumphing over our transgressions and making us Your own.  You are good and just all the time.

Day 11 – God’s promises – unopened gifts

 

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

“For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silvanus and Timothy–was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.”

When in times of trouble, these gifts from God – His precious promises – are all we need.  Promises from God are always kept, always remembered, always given to those who wait on Him.

Like unopened gifts waiting to be opened by His children, God’s promises stand firm and are ready to deliver at the right time.

Lord, thank You for the anchor in my soul that every one of Your precious promises has been.  Thank you that You did not leave us without hope; a hope that does not disappoint like the world’s empty substitutes.

Day 12 – Himself

John 4:10

“Jesus answered her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.””

The greatest, most lavish gift ever given was God himself, in the flesh.  We could not behold His face for He is holy and we are not, so He came in our form so we could understand.

We could not have fellowship with him for our sin separated us.  So He laid down His life and took up our iniquities Himself.

We could not spend all of eternity with Him, so He paid our sin debt and covered over all of our sins so we could dwell with Him forever.

Oh God, forgive us when we get so busy we miss this gift of You every day in our lives.  You are our treasure, available at all times to us, not just at Christmas or on Sundays.  Help us to not neglect You, our greatest gift.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Three: The Law

Gift of Gods law

 

Psalm 19:7

“The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”

John 1:17

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.”

This Christmas, when we think about getting what we want, I am thankful that God in His wisdom does not always give us what we want.  Further, in His mercy, He did not give us what we really deserve – His judgment.

We are all rule breakers in one way or another, often rationalizing our weaknesses away, but God’s righteous standard is held.  He does not leave us in a state of deception, but opens our eyes through His perfect law found in His Word, revealing our sin and need for a Savior.

What a gift – absolute truth – steady, unchanging and Holy in a chaotic relevant world.  In a culture that demands its own way and makes laws to condone its sin, there still stands a righteous standard.

Many feel that this standard set by God steals our freedom and joy, but no greater freedom has anyone than the one who can see his sin that shackles him and can walk away from it.

Even though we could never fulfill God’s commandments perfectly, God in His sovereignty and mercy fulfilled it for us.  His law brought condemnation so we could see our need of Him.

As we visualize ourselves opening these gifts that You have given us, Lord, help us to see Your law at work in our lives and to submit ourselves to Your will in every area of our lives.

 

 

Twelve Days of Christmas Day One: Life

12-days-of-christmas-thumb1-f.png

Job 33:4

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Psalm 139:14

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. At first blush, this song seems rather carnal and materialistic, but the original intention was a vivid example of our lives hidden in Christ.

Although we can complain that Christmas items are out at stores right after Thanksgiving, the early church began the Christmas celebration a  month out and then the timing for the commemoration of the Twelve days of Christmas was celebrated from December 25th through January 6th, leading up to the Epiphany.

These Twelve Days of Christmas are purported by some to be an esoteric code for Christians to remember their beliefs, to others a traditional song reminding us of the Wise men who came and brought gifts all those years ago, and to still others, a secular song with no inherent meaning at all.

But for the early church to set aside a month to celebrate the birth of God is a reminder to us that we can also benefit from this tradition.  Not a month just to be busy, but time to reflect on the significance of what Christ did for us.

Arriving at a perfectly historically accurate understanding of the purpose of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” might be impossible, but perhaps a new tradition is in order.  As a catalyst for sincere praise in this season of giving, over the next twelve days this blog will reflect on twelve amazing gifts that God has given us as we lead up to Christmas.  Day one . . .

On the 1st day of Christmas, our Creator gave to us “Life“.  The complexity of the creation of mankind blows my mind.  From the tiniest cell packed with DNA, to the hairs on our head, eye color, stature, personality – to every detail God lovingly placed in each of His children – our God is awesome, a genius; thoughtful and loving.

This gift of life is often painful, challenging, joyful; a wild mix of emotions.  But to feel is to live.  Each day a gift, whether it was a day filled with trouble that sent us running to our Father, or a day filled with bliss that caused us to be filled with gratitude, every day has a purpose in the scope of eternity.  The “good”, the “bad”, however each moment is assessed by man – ALL of it is used by God miraculously woven into our lives for His glory and our good.

As we come to kneel before our King this Christmas and consider afresh this gift of life, what is the greatest gift we bring now to our Creator, but to offer our lives back to Him in worship?

Lord, thank You for life.  Sometimes it hurts so terribly bad and we wonder how You could ever take such a mess and make it beautiful, but somehow You do.  Lord, thank You for every day of this life and help us to offer each day back to You in sincere gratitude and worship.

Happy Thanksgiving from Seeing Deep!

thanksgiving-christian-quotes-2.jpg

Enter a caption

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.

A SEASON OF THANKFULNESS: DAY 18 – OUR HUMBLE KING

Humility

crossmap.com

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

There is perhaps nothing more ironic than a King becoming a servant, saving the very ones who were His servants in the first place.

In Christ we find the perfect example of humility.  He alone could boast of all the good works He accomplished or of how great He is, yet He chose a crude birth and a lifestyle among commoners.

Materialism and comfort might have appealed to his flesh in that he was 100% man and 100% God, but He did not want those things.  They were distractions from the calling His Father had for Him.  Instead, He was single-minded in His humble approach, prizing the cost of a soul as superior by far to being praised by man.

Sober-minded and dependent upon God, Christ modeled the wisdom of humility.  He captivated the hearts of His enemies not by ruling over them, but by loving and serving them.

There will come a day when Christ returns in righteous judgment, but He first exhibited godly leadership that sacrificed and made Himself subject to the very ones He sought to save.

By laying down His own life, He made a way for the prideful, lost ones truly in a humble position to know their majestic King.

Lord, thank You for demonstrating what it means to not live for self, but to live for the glory of God, instead.  Thank you for choosing a humble life that we might know You!