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: Waiting for God’s Best

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Genesis 24:7

“The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my relatives, promised me with a solemn oath, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ He will send his angel before you so that you may find a wife for my son from there.”

She was merely serving a stranger by watering his camels.  He was simply asking God to lead him to find a wife for his Master’s son.  God was faithfully leading and fulfilling His promise to Abraham.

But Abraham had a choice.  He could try to get the blessings his own way, or seek the blessing of God and His will.  He chose the latter.

The faithfulness of God to lead and provide a godly wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac, is precious.  God wants to lead us all to His best, to provide a spouse who will draw us nearer to Himself and to complete us.

We all want the fairy tale love story, but often don’t want the discipline, waiting and trust to get there.  A new relationship is exciting, but even more precious is a relationship that has stood the test of time and trials with a person of character that grows more into the image of Christ with each passing year.

Finding a life partner whose love for the LORD surpasses anything the world has to offer, including ourselves, is paramount.  Although we want someone to really know us and cherish us, the motivation for a romantic relationship should first and foremost be the glory of God.

God knows our need and longs to comfort us.  Sometimes He brings someone into our lives to complete us – not a perfect person, but a co-laborer and the delight of our heart – to walk beside us in this adventure called life.  That’s what He did for Isaac. His relationship with his wife meant far more than just the happiness he had with her.  A simple trusting in God gave Isaac his son, Jacob – who would become the beginning of the nation of Israel.

Lord, thank You for the gift of marriage.  To be able to encourage one another in Christ and share agape love is beyond words.  Help us to see our spouses as the tremendous gift they are and our children as a legacy of that gift.

Flourishing Friday: Bloom Where You are Planted

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Bloom where you are planted – others around you need to see you thrive.

Scriptures of the Day:

Isaiah 32:15

“This desolation will continue until new life is poured out on us from heaven. Then the desert will become an orchard and the orchard will be considered a forest.”

Isaiah 35:1

“Let the desert and dry region be happy; let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily! 2 Let it richly bloom; let it rejoice and shout with delight! It is given the grandeur of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the grandeur of the LORD, the splendor of our God.”

Ok, I know.  I can be corny sometimes, but I like alliteration and every Friday has a different theme in my mind.  Today is the beautiful imagery found in the book of Isaiah.

There in the middle of the desert, where there is seemingly no nourishment around, a blossom forms and a lily thrives.  Stubbornly it stands, defying all odds.  Alone it is a witness that the harsh realities surrounding it have not snuffed out its life.

I enjoy gardening (well, sort of), and truly feel sad when one of my seeds becomes a seedling then fails to survive.  Next to another seedling that grew into a might plant, I wonder what the difference was.

Now plants can’t feel, but the analogy to me is beautiful.  The word, “Let” strikes me in the above scriptural passage, almost signifying a request or a choice.

When a plant is not thriving, sometimes we can try to transplant it to a more fertile area. The root system can be easily damaged in this procedure and the weak seedling withers. But maybe the answer was to remain.  To stay where there is seemingly no support or life and choose to add things to our environment that produce life.

Such a decision requires a choice.  Not to depend on those around us for life, but to find it within.  Not to allow toxic substances nearby to poison or embitter us, but to choose to feast on God’s truth found in His Word and let that life flow through us, instead.

Sometimes it hardly seems worth the fight.  So many around us can want us to fail, but perhaps what they need more than anything is to see us succeed; to see that God is enough.

It is not easy to choose joy and life when faced with the opposite and we can feel foolish to hope, but it is the seed of hope that becomes a reality of a longing fulfilled for those who wait on the LORD.

Lord, thank You for the grace to live an abundant life not dependent on circumstances or provision, but on You alone.  Help us to thrive for Your glory.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day One: Life

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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.

A Season of Thankfulness, Day one – An Unopened Gift

2 Peter 1:3

“I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.”

Hopping on the thankfulness bandwagon a day late.  Figures.  So this is yesterday’s post.  🙂  Thanksgiving is one cultural holiday worth celebrating!  November is an opportunity to cultivate a heart of gratitude.  For the month of November, I hope to inspire thoughts of sincere gratitude for what we have in Christ.

This scripture makes me think of how silly it would be to be given a gift and have it sit right in front of us, but to doubt that it exists.  Its presence would be undeniable, because it is tangible to us and we would see it with our own eyes.  Denying the gift would be ridiculous, and yet spiritual gifts are often neglected and unseen.  Why?

Surrounding the gift are trials distracting us and people offering different answers that appear to hold promise, yet these other paths do not give us the same peace.

Our enemy is busy trying to undo the greatest gift of all.  Filling our mind with doubts and casting stumbling blocks haphazardly across our paths, the physical seems greater than the spiritual.  Sometimes it seems insurmountable and hopeless.  The answer we long for tarries and we wonder what God’s purpose could be in it all.

Still the gift still sits there, untapped, until we reach for it and apply it to our circumstances and life.  The Holy Spirit within us urges us on to open the gift!  Reaching for God’s promises and crying out to our ever-present God who sees and knows all, He is our strength, our hope, our answer in all situations.  He might not remove the pain or trouble, but He and His Word truly are the answer to everything we face in this life.

Are any of us lonely?  Hurting?  Desperate for a touch of God’s grace and faith?  We have all we need in Christ – for everything we face in this life!  What promise and encouragement we find in God’s word.  Even when our feelings betray us, God’s Word does not.  Open the gift today – get into His Word and let Him speak to You and your situation.  He is able and He loves you!

Lord, help us to access all that You have for us in Your Word.  Knowing You is the greatest treasure we could ever have. Thank You for giving us Your Word.  You are forever faithful!

Mundane Monday: Something in the Blood

Photo Credits: marccortez.com

Photo Credits: marccortez.com

Leviticus 17:11-14

11 “For the life of every living thing is in the blood.   So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life.  12 Therefore, I have said to the Israelites: No person among you is to eat blood, and no resident foreigner who lives among you is to eat blood.  13“‘Any man from the Israelites or from the foreigners who reside in their midst who hunts a wild animal or a bird that may be eaten must pour out its blood and cover it with soil, 14 for the life of all flesh is its blood.  So I have said to the Israelites: You must not eat the blood of any living thing because the life of every living thing is its blood – all who eat it will be cut off.’” 

Zechariah 9:11

“Moreover, as for you, because of our covenant relationship secured with blood, I will release your prisoners from the waterless pit.”

Hebrews 13:20

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep.”

1 Peter 1:18-20 (NLT)

18 “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but He has now revealed him to you in these last days.”

Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)

22 “In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”

I know – the picture kind of grosses you out, right?  it does me.  The sight of blood is enough to make some people pass out, strike still others with fear or disgust.  There is power in the blood, but it is not because of man’s perceptions.  What is it about blood?

Blood is life.  Without blood we cannot live and according to God’s word, without the shedding of blood we cannot live.  Our lives are costly and therefore the payment for our sins, which destroys our lives, is costly.  Spilled blood makes us aware of the value of the life lost.  Innately we know life is precious.

To sophisticated man, all this talk of blood is barbarian.  We would rather not hear or know about it.  It remind us that we are but dust and finite beings.  To need blood as our ransom is humbling.  We would rather be independent and provide for our own needs.  But alas, we cannot.

The offerings in the Old Testament were necessary before a holy God.  They might be hard for us to understand in our current culture, but God’s standard of a life for a life is borne out by the provision of blood covering our sins.

Today we remember His sacrifice in communion but can easily forget the symbolism of the cup of blood we drink.  His blood was spilled for our transgressions and should not lightly be accepted.  While we could not stand in the presence of God, the substitutionary death of His Son, Jesus, Who gave His life for our own, enables us to not just be forgiven of sins, but to have a relationship with a Holy God.

I had the privilege of attending a Bethel worship concert last week.  During that time, one of the worship leaders, Steffany Gretzinger, shared an insight into the power of God’s blood that has stuck with me.  She spoke of the dilemma many are in because of coming from a bloodline marred in sin, but then spoke of the hope we have in Christ’s bloodline, which trumps every bloodline on earth.

Sweet victory is ours!  Whatever our past, whatever sins were passed down or we ourselves committed, they have all been trumped by the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who set the standard for the wages of our sin then fulfilled them Himself – with His own blood.

How costly blood is, and how much more so from God Himself!  This amazing gift of salvation is not casually accepted; no, it is part of a covenantal relationship which holds us accountable.  We cannot continue in sin when such a cost was paid.  He Who set us free is worthy of our lives, as well.

Lord, how amazing You are – to know our need for Your covering before we ever were.  Thank You for Your sacrifice.  May we never take for granted this gift of Your life for ours.

Worshipful Wednesday: Birthday Blessings

Psalm 90:4, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17

4 Yes, in your eyes a thousand years are like yesterday that quickly passes, or like one of the divisions of the nighttime. 10 The days of our lives add up to seventy years, or eighty, if one is especially strong. But even one’s best years are marred by trouble and oppression. Yes, they pass quickly and we fly away.  12 So teach us to consider our mortality, so that we might live wisely. 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your loyal love! Then we will shout for joy and be happy all our days!  15 Make us happy in proportion to the days you have afflicted us, in proportion to the years we have experienced trouble!  17 May our sovereign God extend his favor to us! Make our endeavors successful! Yes, make them successful!

Psalm 92: 12-15

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” 

I love it when the LORD gives a Scripture that is so apt for the day.  As I cracked open my Bible today, the reading for today included the passage above.  Sweet time with Jesus on my birthday.

Even when days, months or years are hard, we can have complete joy in the love of God.  Every year we are given is a gift from God, invested for His glory.  We need to use our time wisely and not take it for granted.  Even when we are wasteful of opportunities in this life, none of it is wasted with Him and He uses it all.

As our years turn into yesterdays and we become aware of our aging, it is a great encouragement to me that God is never through with any of us.  In God’s economy, we are not less useful as we age, but moreso.  The wisdom we have attained over the years is just one aspect of our lives that becomes more valuable over time.  We can bear fruit for God’s kingdom and be used by God until the day we die.

Isn’t that amazing?  We do not have to dread another year – unlike the world system where people are not esteemed as much when they grow older, in Christ we are more valuable as we age.  And He will never be through with us, amen!

I love the traditions of honoring and remembering people on their birthday.  It is fun and a blessing to watch our Facebook account blow up with messages from people from different times in our lives who took a minute to greet us on the day God made us.

Today, I want to thank and honor God for giving me life.  My loving husband and each of my children, parents and friends are a treasure to me.  Of the many gifts God has given to me, healing from brokenness, physical healing, His provision, the best gift He ever gave me was rebirth – the knowledge of Him and His free gift of salvation.  Life is a precious gift and God longs to walk alongside us through the blessings and burdens of it all.

The expectations we have for this life can lead to gratitude or bitterness.  The twists and turns of each of our lives might not have been what we imagined they were going to be, but each of our life stories are ultimately His story as our lives are hidden in Christ.  God redeems every portion of our life and makes it a sweet offering when we place it all in His capable hands.  While some pages of our lives might be stained with tears, the lessons learned on those pages as we drew near to God are precious gifts, after all.

Lord, thank You so much for an abundant life in You!  I will be forever grateful for the greatest gift you continually give me each day – knowing You more.

Worshipful Wednesday: My Healer

Psalm 30:2

“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.”

I am overcome today with praise for my Jehovah Rapha, the LORD Who heals me.  This morning when I awoke I realized I did not have the normal pain that has been my close companion for years. Actually, the pain has been dissipating the past couple of weeks and I wondered if God could be removing the physical burdens I bear daily.

Diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I have learned to live within the confines of the illnesses that hold me captive.  When I go outside of those boundaries, I hurt.  My sweet son sees when I am in pain and we have a routine where he tries to help me get going in the morning.  Daily living has been difficult, but I press on.  In moments when I have felt I could not bear the burden any longer, God’s strength carried me.

The LORD has healed me many times over the years and with each affliction I only drew nearer to my God.  While my flesh was beaten, my inner man clung to God and His promises.  Physical suffering is discouraging and greatly affects our ability to be effective.  Like walking in mud, progress seems insurmountable.  The lessons learned in each struggle, however, produce a treasure of a closer walk with God, even if they leave us with a lasting wound like Jacob when He wrestled with God.

I confess that I was afraid to even hope that He might be healing me.  I often did not see that He had already been healing me spiritually.  The thought of being delivered from the prison of pain I have lived through seemed to be too good to be true.  Surrendering my life to His hands, I rested in the truth that whatever God allowed into my life would serve to bring Him glory and fulfill His purposes through me.  Whether He wants to heal me for a day or for years, I thank Him and trust His decision.

It is a humbling experience to be physically afflicted and we can feel forgotten.  But if we had never experienced the pain, we would not have the gratitude for God’s deliverance.  We tend to take things for granted until what we assume is ours is taken away.  God in His wisdom knows what we need – both blessings and burdens.  Perhaps the most beautiful lesson learned through my health ordeals has been to be surrendered to whatever the LORD’s will is.  Whether sick or healthy, it is all about His glory in every circumstance.  Either way, He is our Healer – healing us inwardly or outwardly through it all.

Lord, I am overcome by Your faithfulness.  Who are we, that You should notice us at all?  And yet You want to heal us and draw us nearer to You to help others be healed, too.  Thank You, God!

Mundane Monday: Our Witness in Every Day Life

Exodus 18:9, 11

“Jethro rejoiced because of all the good that the LORD had done for Israel, whom he had delivered from the hand of Egypt.  11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods, for in the thing in which they dealt proudly against them he has destroyed them.”

1 Peter 2:12

“And maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.”

Ephesians 5:15-16

“Therefore be very careful how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

1 Timothy 4:16

“Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”

To hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” is what we long to hear at the conclusion of our lives, but carrying out a consistent walk with God is our utmost challenge on this earth.

There are moments in which we see God use us and we are consumed with pleasing Him.  We wish that those mountaintop experiences would live on forever, but real character is formed in the chasm of everyday monotony.  Will we be faithful to rise and seek Him?  To focus our lives for His glory, willing and ready to share His Word in every situation?

Movies are popular entertainment today in part because for those moments we imagine ourselves to be like the character – the hero in some devastating circumstance.  But once the story is over, we must live our stories and they often pale in comparison to the excitement that was exhibited on the big screen.  The character traits exhibited by actors are often supernatural – somehow their physical strength or their insight is more than those around them.  They never seem to have to contend with the reality of life’s less thrilling moments.

The Bible is filled with the most amazing stories on earth, but unlike many movies today, the stories in the Bible are relatable.  Characters exemplify lives full of excitement and tortuous routine.  Even Moses, who after being used for a miraculous deed by God to save all of God’s people, found himself at an all day desk job – an occupation of discerning people’s affairs.  But his father-in-law surrendered his own soul to Heaven when he saw Moses’ faithfulness and God’s activity in his life in the large and small details of His life.

The godly cloud of witnesses who have gone before us did not have posh, comfortable positions.  They dealt with often cruel, arduous conditions that appeared meaningless until generations that followed had their example to look up to.

Our flesh is impatient and being consistent, careful and conscientious as the Scriptures above urge us to be, are not desirable at first glance.  We want things to come easily and tasks to be completed, but the daunting “to do” list is never fully quelled.  The frustration from a sense of always being behind the eight ball is part of the longing in our souls for Heaven.

When we feel powerless, tossed to and fro by the circumstances of life washing over us like a huge wave, it is in those moments that we can catch a glimpse of His glory and witness to those around us.  Remembering what Christ endured and the fruit of His suffering helps us to put our own situation in perspective.

Finding meaning and purpose in the highs and the lows appears futile until we begin to see the fruit over time.  Looking to our future reward can spur us on to continue on the path of righteousness in all aspects of our lives.  Surprisingly, the small details in life are often the ones that leave the biggest impact on those who come behind us.  The “boring” aspects of life have meaning, too, if we recognize that all we do on this earth is for His glory.

Lord, nothing is meaningless in You.  Help us to have a heart for those around us rather than focusing on our own needs when life appears dull or stressful.  May we bear witness of Your faithfulness to meet our every need, large or small, and may many come to know You.

Worshipful Wednesday: Pervasive Worship

Psalm 71:8

“I praise you constantly and speak of your splendor all day long.”

I was blessed to attend the GMA Immerse Conference in Nashville this week with my husband.  That moment when all of the Christian musicians around you are all lifting up the name of Jesus is a taste of Heaven.  But what struck me this week is that we are all worship leaders.

Worship leading is not just referring to responding to God through music.  It is the attitude of our heart throughout all of the capers of life – an opportunity to express worship to God through each moment.  The way we react when the pressures of life surround us affects those around us and can lead them to worship God or doubt Him.

All too often we can isolate worship to a specific segment of our day or week.  Being attentive to God’s activity around us and in us is worship.  Reading His Word, prayer, listening or preaching a sermon is worship.  Caring for our children and our spouses is worship – all that we do is worship when we do it all for God’s glory.

How we respond to life leads others around us to respond in like manner.  Gratitude in the face of disappointment, thankfulness over God’s provision, joy when the circumstances around us are heavy.  All of these responses are supernatural as we are enabled by the God of this universe when we come to Him.

Lord, help us to recognize that every aspect of our lives is to be poured out for You and others.  What a privilege it is to worship You, LORD!  Help us to lead others around us to worship You in every part of the precious life You have given!