Monday, December 30, 2013
Another year is drawing to a close. Good and bad. Happy and sad. Joy and sorrow. Laughter and pain. I believe it does us all well to reflect back on all that has happened. Learn from our mistakes so we can grow and not make them again. See what good happened and where God worked for us. Was it a year you wish had never happened? Was it a year you were thankful for? What can you do differently than last year to grow closer to God and walk in the path He has for you?
Lots of questions - few answers. Its hard sometimes, isn't it, to look back at what transpired in the last year? Some of us will be happy with how our lives have turned out so far. Others of us will be glad this year is closing and a new one is beginning. Its like reading a really long book and you just want this chapter to end! You are ready to turn the page and see if there is something good happening for the main character in the story - YOU!
I have been keeping a journal for the past 9 or 10 years. Its my way of getting my feelings out, a way of remembering what happened in life and how I felt. I've pulled some of those journals out and read bits and pieces. I can see in the beginning a child like mentality - it was all about me. What was wrong in my life, what I wanted. God, what about me? I'm almost embarrassed to read some of them. Yet, I can see my growth in Christ thru my writings. I can see situations where I struggled and God came through. When you are in the midst of situations in your life, you can miss the little things God does for you. But, if you sit and REFLECT on the year or years past, you can see where God has moved and what He has done for you. I am glad I started writing all those years ago. Its a great reminder of who God is and who I am not. I am broken, scarred, battered and bruised. But God is a healer. A potter who is working the lump of clay that is me. I am constantly being prodded and shaped by his loving hands and I can see that as I reflect back on the year. Hes working out those cracks, replacing the broken pieces and smoothing away the rough spots. If I didn't look back and reflect on all He's done for me, I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to look forward with anticipation of what is to come.
Isaiah 40:31 "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"
Hope in - means to trust in or look expectantly to. As I reflect back and see where I've been, I can HOPE IN the Lord - I can look expectantly to where He is taking me. What a great promise! What joy that brings to a heart that at times can be heavy laden.
I encourage you to look back - Reflect. But, in your reflection, don't become downtrodden. Instead, reflect on what was good, what was bad, what made you happy and what saddened you. Learn from those things and then with a hopeful heart, look ahead to what God has in store for the new year. Set goals for your relationship with Him. Put Him first in all you do and see where He takes you. Trust me, you will soar on wings like eagles! This race before us is long and can be hard at times - but knowing with God I can soar - that gives me HOPE!
Thursday, December 26, 2013
I was watching a movie yesterday and the characters were window dressers at a popular department store. They each had a window and competed to see whose window was better. At one point in the movie, the woman looked to her co-worker and said "I'm like a window - a facade. I create perfect images for others to admire". Wow! I quickly jotted that down because it is so true of so many of us.
We think we are expected to look a certain way, behave a certain way, have the right family, home, drive a certain car. What we are doing in our lives is creating a Facade that we can never measure up to. We buy the latest styles and dress ourselves to match what everyone else is wearing. We go into debt to have the perfect house so that it appears we have it all. We drive certain cars because they look better than what we can truly afford. Have you ever invited someone to your house and then told your family "Don't talk about this...", "Don't say that...", "Don't embarrass me". You want your family to be someone they are not to impress the guest. Have you ever went out to buy a new dress just to impress a man on a date? Worn something totally out of character for you? You are building a facade - giving a false impression of who you truly are.
I am guilty of this. The whole summer before my 20 year class reunion I worked out every single day. I was trying to get into better shape so that I could show everyone that I wasn't who I was in high school. I was fit. I wasn't an ugly duckling anymore. I wanted them to notice me. Its funny how the "mean" girls noticed me right away. They said it was because of my smile or my eyes. The guys didn't' know who I was. The window coverings had been changed and they didn't know me. What I realized was they didn't see me then, and they weren't seeing ME now. They were seeing a facade. Who I am is in that smile and in my eyes, not in the dress I wore or the size I am. I have lived much of my adult life trying to look a certain way. I achieved it once - but it was fleeting. I eventually had to stop working so hard on keeping up appearances so that I could live my life. I want to be known by the size of my heart and the love that I give and not by the size of my home or the designer clothes I wear or the number on the scale. I am me. I accept who I am because I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". God knit my innermost being and knew me before I was even born. Nothing about who I am or what I look like is an accident - I was shaped and dressed by God. So are you. Lets try to live this next year true to ourselves - no facades. Lets accept others for who they are, not for what they look like. Because who they truly are is underneath the window dressing. I don't want to live trying to create perfection for others to admire. I want to live loving who Christ created me to be.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Words have power. Meaning. Depth. Can elicit change. I have been thinking about my one word. What word do I want to live by in the coming year? What word describes who I want to be? I'm tired of making New Years Resolutions...its the same old thing year after year. We generally resolve to do better on what we didn't do last year. Lose weight, save money, be a better husband/wife/friend, be a better parent, etc. Don't you get a knot in your stomach, a grumbling in your soul, when someone says "What's your New Years Resolution?". I do. Because they tend to get forgotten and become unreachable.
So, this year I have decided that instead of setting myself up for failure by making a list of resolutions I won't keep, I will choose ONE WORD to live my life by this year. One word that will change my outlook on life, on me, and on those around me. One word that will give me focus and direction in my walk with the Lord. Because, ultimately, if I focus on Him, and live my life the way He wants me to live it, then all the rest of the "stuff" I resolve will eventually fall into place. Living in God's will for my life is all I need to resolve to do.
So, what is my word? I've thought about it and honestly, I haven't been able to pick one yet. I want to pick a word that will help me align myself to Gods calling on my life. I'm still hoping God will help me narrow it down. But, what about you? Will you make a laundry list of resolutions that you know you probably won't keep? Or will you think about and pray about one word that you can focus on - one word that will give your life meaning this coming year? Here are a few you can think about:
When I choose my word I will let you know. I want to be held accountable. I'm excited to see what word I choose and excited to see how that word will change my life this coming year. Let me know if you choose a word. I will encourage you along the way...
Sunday, December 22, 2013
It happens. The rains come. Sometimes its a gentle rain and you are Calm. Peaceful. Soothed even. But then the storms come. When buckets of rain falls on your head and you feel like you are going to drown. Nothing is going right. Things are falling apart and you feel like if God doesn't stop it soon, you are going to drown. You wonder why God is sending these storms in your life and you have two choices: you can drown in them or you can learn from them.
Drowning in them - doesn't sound like a good choice, but it happens. We get discouraged, downtrodden, lose hope and we can no longer lift our heads. We feel as if this dark time will never end, that we will never see the sun shine on us again. I'm sure you've been there - in the loss of a child, in the flood of a home, in the depth of despair when you don't know where the next meal will come from to feed your family, when you can't find a job after weeks or even months of trying. All you want to do is give up and let the rain waters take you away. But God told us in Jeremiah 29:8 "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and to not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Hope - the one word you can grab hold of during your storm. God gives us hope. And when we have HOPE, that is when we learn from our storms, instead of drown in them. In Psalm 107:29 it says "He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love" Even when its raining hard and we feel like we are about to lose it, God is there with us. He is waiting to calm the storm. He will guide us to our safe haven because he loves us, but He wants us to have FAITH in Him. In Luke 8:24-25 it speaks of the disciples and their fear in the storm "Master, Master, we're going to drown" Sound familiar? He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.
When we go through these storms in our life - leaky roofs, broken sinks, car troubles, no job, whatever our storm may be, God is saying to us "Where is your faith?". We all doubt - I do. I did yesterday when water poured in from two different spots in my ceiling. I didn't think I could take any more...but I can. And I will. Because through it all, God is there and He's saying "Stacie, where is your faith?" "Stacie, I have plans for you! Plans to not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". God tells us in His word that He will never leave us - no matter what storm we are in. So, have FAITH. He will see you through, and at the end of it, when the rain stops and the sun shines again, you will see the rainbow of hope. God sends these storms to see where we are weak and where we are strong. Those leaks in my roof are the weak spots. Time to fortify them, strengthen them. In our storms, he sees where we are weak and helps us fix the broken parts. It makes us stronger. So, stand strong in you storms and have Faith - God will never leave you!
Thursday, December 19, 2013
I've been a little lost these last few days...not sure what to write, not sure what I'm feeling or even what I'm learning. Its a crazy time of year, 6 days before Christmas. There are cookies to bake, presents to wrap, cleaning to do to get ready for the big day! As I was reading a bible study this morning I came upon the picture above. Fitting for the season. We all await the day we can open the gifts others have chosen for us. Yet the greatest gift I feel I have received is Gods gift of Grace.
Grace is given to us freely and we are meant to give it away as freely as we receive it. See, God gives each of his children SPECIFIC gifts. During this season of the year, are you "giving away" your gifts the way God intended?
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
Whether it’s serving or teaching, encouraging or leading, showing mercy or giving generously, when we exercise those gifts, we become “faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God” (PHILLIPS).
Do you give the gifts God has given you away? Do you forgive? Do you honor others? Live in harmony with each other? Accept one another? Kind and compassionate? Encourage and build each other up? Love deeply from the heart?
Hard questions aren't they? When we really sit down and consider all we do and all we say, are we giving away as much as we've been given? Honor others - that means put them first. Hard to do? Only by God's grace can we practice being second. Live in harmony with one another - sounds simple enough. No drama, no slammed doors, no arguments or raised voices. It starts in our homes. Something to ponder. Accept one another. Know that everyone, even you, are flawed. Sold "as is" means you buy it knowing there is something wrong. Same with our friends and family - we agree to accept as is and love as is. Practice it. If we can do this in our homes, especially our church family, what a joyous time of year it could be. Encourage and build up - you've heard the saying "If you don't have anything nice today, then don't say anything at all". Jesus challenges us - be nice, and say it. Speak up - it will change you and the bless the person you are encouraging.
Grace - it comes in all forms. The few mentioned above are mentioned in the Bible. Lets practice giving more away this season. It was given freely to us and where it came from there is an endless supply. Give it away and more will be added to you.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
I've recently experienced some of the above phrases...from myself and from someone I love who feels this way. It really spoke to my heart that this is something that I need freedom from and I want to help someone else along the way. I think we all at one point or another do something in our lives that makes us feel as if we are "Not good enough", "Not pretty enough" or "Not smart enough". We all sin and not one of us is perfect, yet we tend to compare ourselves to others who seem to have it all together on the OUTSIDE. We carry what we've done around with us - we wear it like an overcoat and it weighs us down. We compare ourselves to others without knowing what their story is. We all sin - no one sin is greater than another - yet we look at our sin and think that we must wear this coat of shame even though God has offered us a cloak of righteousness. Why do we listen to the father of lies instead of the Giver of Life?
When Eve sinned her eyes were opened, and for the first time she pulled back a little in shame - and we as women have been doing it ever since. We look in the mirror and instead of seeing the "Image-Likeness" of Christ, we see shame, guilt, filth. Since that day in the garden we have tried to be good enough for God, for others, and we continue to come up short in our minds. But god clothes us in righteousness. He takes away our dirty rags and gives us robes of righteousness.
Shame is different than guilt. Guilt says I've DONE something wrong while shames says I AM something wrong. Our shame can make us pull away from God and from others before they reject us. But God shows us love, mercy, grace, hope, promise of a future. We are all broken and flawed, but God loves us as we are and has taken our shame from us.
Today I pray for you and for me, that God helps us see that He has already paid the price for our shame. We need to lay our dirty rags at the foot of the cross and put on our new coat of righteousness, paid with His blood. Carrying around all that shame and guilt says that what Christ did wasn't good enough for US, and so we need to continue to punish ourselves for the sin He has already forgiven. Our sin is removed as far as the east is from the west - He sees it no more. We are clean in His sight. What Christ did on the cross was enough. Today, leave it at the cross. Its too heavy for us to bear so let Him take it from you. Walk in your righteousness today and when you look in the mirror see:
Monday, December 16, 2013
Jesus wanted a drink. He was tired and hot and thirsty so he went to the well to get a drink. And then she showed up. You know her, the woman at the well. The woman who had been married 5 times and who was now with another man. The woman who was never satisfied so she kept doing the same thing over and over, hoping to find something to quench her thirst for love, for acceptance. You may know someone like that - it may be you. You keep working longer hours to find that satisfaction in your job, or your bank account. You work out longer and harder to look the way the world expects you to look. You keep dating the wrong guy or the wrong woman because no one seems to fill that dry spot in your heart.
Meet the woman at the well. She went later in the day, after all the other women went to the well. This way she wouldn't be judged, or pushed aside. She shows up and there is a man there - and he asks her for a drink of water. Well, she knows what that means. In the past it meant "lets talk. Lets get to know one another". She pushed back - "How could a man like you ask for water from a Samaritan woman like me?" (John 4:9) He could because He is God. He isn't concerned with race or gender. “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
John 4:10 "If you only knew the free gift of God". She had been solicited before. She knew gifts had strings attached. But not this one. Not this time. You know what I mean - someone gives you something and you wonder "whats the catch". What do you want from me in return? But God doesn't work that way. What he offers is FREE!!!
She came to the well for water, and was offered LIVING WATER!
“But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
She was willing to settle for less, but Jesus wanted her to have more. He wanted her to experience living water, He wanted her soul to come alive! He wanted her to experience TRUE JOY! We have to set aside what our bodies want and listen to our hearts. We must learn to satisfy our soul and not our physical self. “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). So often we go down paths that lead us to a dry desert. We think what we are doing will quench our thirst for life and we end up more dry and depleted than ever before. Life is sucked out of us to the point we don't want to lift our heads and face another day. But we have this offer:
John 4:14 "But whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst again. The water will become a spring in him". Whoever DRINKS. Going to church, carrying around a Bible, listening to Christian music - those are all good things. But unless we DRINK of the living water, we will remain dry and thirsty. We can't just carry the Bible, we have to OPEN IT and read it. DRINK. When we listen to that Christian music we need to let it seep in and start to fill those dry spots with the living truth. We need to WORSHIP God thru the song. When we go to church we need to get plugged in. I've heard people say "I'm not getting fed at this church". To be fed you have to do something - Hand to mouth! Get involved. Serve. DO!
No person or thing of this world can supply the water of life. Only God. We try though don't we? We spend money we don't have trying to fill a need in our heart of acceptance. We date people we shouldn't date trying to fill that emptiness in our hearts that only God can fill. We drink to escape. The list can go on - and you know what that thing is for you. But only GOD can give us life. Only God can fill those dry places in our lives with his Living Water. So DRINK. What is stopping you? Its a free gift, freely given to anyone who asks. Go to the well today. Its the perfect time of season, don't you think? As we come upon Christmas, instead of seeking gifts and things to fill you - go to the well and drink of the living water that was sent as a child to fill our hearts with His living water. DRINK today and LIVE!
Friday, December 13, 2013
I sat down this morning, grabbed my notebook and pen and started writing. This idea popped into my head about walls. We all build them in our lives - around our heart. I was going to write all that God was showing me about the different walls I've put up in my life and about 4 pages later I realized that there is SOOOO much more I could say about each one - and so many others I didn't mention. So, I'm gonna save what he showed me this morning, build on it and I will share it later. Because what He showed me is so important that it deserves more than just a morning blog.
See, God told me about a year and a half ago that I needed to tell my story. Well, I laughed. Seriously. In church he said "Tell your story" and I smiled and giggled. Right, ok God, sure. To whom do you want me to tell and how do you expect me to do this. I'm JUST a mom, JUST a paralegal, JUST a nobody from small town Indiana. So, I dismissed Him. Well, one thing I've learned about God, He doesn't go away quietly!! About 6 months after that He said it again. "Tell your story". I actually looked around me that day - again I was at church, listening to the sermon and I turned my head. Then I shook my head - "Are you kidding me? Don't you know I'm a nobody? Who cares about my story?" Again, I went on my merry way and ignored God! What nerve!! Have you ever done that? God told you to do something and you laughed at Him? Thankfully, God is a patient God and not quick to punish for disobedience. Instead He waits and gently prods when He sees fit. This past May I was part of a local women's conference and was talking to our guest MC and I happened to tell her one little snippet of my story - and she looked at me and said "You need to be up on that stage. I see you speaking to other women someday". Inside my heart skipped a beat because that is a dream I've had for many years, but I've always thought "Who am I? Why would anyone want to hear from me? I'm a nobody". Then God said "I told you to tell your story". Isn't He funny? I'm sure he was saying "I told you so". But my fear and my doubt kept me quiet and hidden.
God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think! (Eph. 3:20) And He will make a way, where there seems to be no way!
Have you ever experienced God tugging on your heart, telling you to do something that is out of the ordinary for you? Telling you to step out of your comfort zone and stretching your faith? Its scary! But its exciting as well. Because God isn't calling the great, He's calling us to make us great! He takes the little we have and makes it His. So, today, if you feel God is telling you to do something you wouldn't normally do, DO IT! He will get some awesome glory from it! I can't wait to share what God is doing in my life...but its not ready yet. Its only just begun. But, I'm finally listening to Him and ready to go on this journey. So, that blog I was gonna write this morning will have to wait - because its only just begun. Instead, God wanted me to challenge you - today, listen to that still small voice and instead of laughing at God, or blowing Him off because you don't feel good enough to do what He's asking, just step out from behind your wall and take a step of faith. You will be amazed at how awesome it feels to be walking in God's will for your life!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
We've all read the story of Joseph. His brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites who in turn sold him to Potiphar. He was treated like dirt by his brothers, but God has other plans for Joseph. Plans to prosper him. Sounds like a favorite verse of mine - Jeremiah 29:11.
Well, back to Joseph. Potiphar had a wife who was a BAD girl!! Mrs. P had an issue with lust. She saw something she wanted, and she went after it. Know anyone like that in your life? Someone who will do whatever it takes to get what they want, regardless of the rules? Well, Mrs. P thought Joseph was good looking and she wanted him! She noticed how handsome and well-built he was and she was tempted. Ah, there's that theme again. Eve was tempted and now Mrs. P. Eve wanted that juicy fruit and Mrs. P wanted Joseph.
In Genesis 39:7 she says to Joseph "Come to bed with me!" What did Joesph do? He refused. He responded “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) Notice he didn't call her wicked, just the sin against God. Important to see here that we aren't wicked, our sin is wicked. God loves us and he loved Mrs. P. He just didn't like what she was doing. So Joseph ran. Over and over she solicits Joseph and repeatedly he runs. Eventually he just stays out of the building! But, as is common with Satan, Mrs. P finally found a chance to grab hold of him. When everyone in the palace was gone, she grabbed hold of his garment and said Come to bed with me! Joseph ran, leaving his cloak behind! Poor Joseph. First his coat of many colors was taken, now this one!! Poor guy has a problem keeping his shirt on!
Have you ever wanted something as bad as Mrs. P wanted Joseph? Ambition? Money? A man or a woman? Job? The list could go on. There are so many things that we could want so badly that we are willing to do anything to get them - even sin against God. Have you ever "grabbed" and "took" like Mrs. P did with Joseph? When we don't get what we want, the temptation to reach out and take is very strong. But remember, God gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. Hold on, be patient. Joseph did what we should do. HE RAN!! He didn't even try to wrestle with her to get his cloak back. He just left it and left the building. Why? Because staying to get that cloak would have kept him within arms reach of that temptation. We need to be more like Joseph and less like Mrs. P. When faced with the temptation to take what we want, when its not God's best for us, we need to run. Leave behind anything that could trip us up and run the other way. Run towards God and his outstretched arms. You know he's waiting for you to turn around and make the right decision. I admit I have made many mistakes in my life. There were times I wish I had turned and run, but I grabbed and took instead. God has loved me through it and gently scrubbed that dirt and hurt away. Lessons were learned and scars were formed. I think its time for me to start running more towards God and away from the things that tempt.
Today I challenge you to look at your Mrs. P., the things that tempt you. Will you grab and take or will you run and flee?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I started an online Bible study this morning. It is written by Liz Curtis Higgs called "The Bad Girls of the Bible"...I LOVE that title!!! Makes me feel "less" bad about myself knowing that there are bad girls in the Bible!! haha Well, the very first bad girl was Eve. Yep, you read that right - Eve.
Eve had it made - handsome husband, free food, beautiful home, freedom to roam in the Garden. But she gave it all away because of one word - PRIDE. When she was being tempted by the serpent, she didn't call on on God to help her, she didn't hide in God's word and God's shadow. No, she listened. Her downfall wasn't her appetite for the fruit - it was her PRIDE. Her pride that she could handle it on her own. Sound familiar? Sound like something you may have done once or twice or a hundred times over in your life? Been faced with a temptation, an opportunity to sin - an opportunity to do something that you normally wouldn't do or you know is against the rules? You think, "God, I love you and thank you for loving me unconditionally - so if you could just turn your head right now - I got this. I'm gonna do this on my own right now".
Liz writes: When is smart not smart? When God says “don’t,” and we say “do.” When God says “stop,” and we say “go.” When God says, “I love you,” and we say, “That’s nice, but if you don’t mind, I’d like a little time off for bad behavior.” You relate to this statement - I do. I've done it before in my life - God loves me so He'll forgive me. Yes, He will - but as children of God he sets a higher standard for us to live by. He will always love us, but boy, don't you wish we thought of the consequences BEFORE we take that time off for bad behavior? So, Eve ate - and told her husband to eat and he did. And their eyes were opened - just like the serpent promised. But, what he promised they would gain was not anywhere near what they learned. He promised them knowledge - well, they got that - knowledge that they were naked and exposed. They made coverings for their body out of fig leaves - but we all know what happens when a leaf is removed from the vine of life. It shrivels and dies. Very symbolic of what sin does to us - it separates us from the living water, the vine of life. God. It causes us to shrivel and die inside. When we sin and start to feel that separation from God what happens? We feel exposed. Naked. Uncovered and unclean. Shamed. But, the hope is that just like with Adam and Eve, God calls to us. Where are you? Where have you gone? Isn't it awesome to know that God provides a way to cover our sin? He covered Adam and Eve. He clothed them in the garden - and he clothes us now. With His righteousness. With His blood.
When God calls to you, don't hide in shame. He comes in love with grace and mercy. He comes to clothe you with righteousness bought with the blood of His son Jesus. We hang out heads and say "Can you forgive me?" and he raises our heads and days "Yes, it is done". Shame is replaced with righteousness.
Where are you right now? Shamed? Hiding from God? Ashamed of something you have done? Fearful? God came looking for Adam and Eve to FIND them. Not to punish them. He is a loving father wanting to show them how much He loved them. And He is doing the same for you and me. Bet you've figured out something - we are all bad boys and bad girls. We all sin and feel shame. But God wants us to come out of hiding and feel His love for us. Listen for God's voice. Sense Him moving in your life. Come out of hiding.
Monday, December 9, 2013
As I was driving into work this morning, I was listening to the radio and the song by Laura Story "I Can Just Be Me" came on. I've heard it before, but today I really listened to the lyrics and they really spoke to me. For most of my life I've tried to be the person people would accept. When as a little girl your daddy leaves you, it can tear something down deep in your heart. The one person who is supposed to love you and protect you walks away, it can cause a fear that is overpowering. Maybe something has happened in your life to cause that gut wrenching fear - fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of failure. I just want to be me.
What does that look like? Who am I? Am I what I tell myself in those quiet moments when I'm alone? Just a mom, just a girl from small town Indiana, just a divorcee, just a paralegal. Or do I tell myself I'm brave, I'm loved, I'm accepted, I'm gifted, I'm talented. This song is my hearts cry to God when I want to tear myself down with my own words - "I've been doing all that I can to hold it all together, piece by piece"...
Have you ever felt that way? Ever felt that if one more thing goes wrong, or you get disappointed by someone ONE MORE TIME, you are going to break into a thousand pieces? Jesus went through all the pain of rejection and disappointment that we go through. When you feel that way cry out to Him "Be my healer, be my comfort, be my peace".
The verse at the end of the song that really speaks to me says "cause I'm so tired of trying to be someone I was never meant to be". Living in this broken and shattered world causes us to do this at times, don't you think? We try to be who others want us to be in order to feel that love and acceptance. Yet, when we are alone, we cry out wishing they would accept us for who we truly are. Broken sinners who get it wrong more times than we get it right. Loved in spite of our failures. Treasured because we are his sons and daughters. This is my vow to myself for the coming year - to be me. To be who God wants me to be, who God says I am. To accept others for who they are and to love them in spite of their failures. Because we all fail. We are all needy and broken. So "Be my God so I can just be me"...
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Do you trust God? Do you believe he knows what he's doing? There are times in my life when I felt like He was indifferent...or even absent all together. I look back now on those times and can see His hand in the situation, but when I'm in the middle of it, I feel like He has abandoned me. He didn't abandon me, I lost faith and trust in Him. I was the one who left, not Him. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever been there?
When I went through my divorce in 2001, it was a very lonely time for me. People in the church that I attended pointed fingers at me, were angry at me and very judgmental. I felt even a little bit of disconnect from my family. The life I was supposed to have lived was now ending and I was beginning a new chapter. I had 2 small children to take care of, I was alone and I lost my church family. That first summer after my divorce was a blur...I tried to find acceptance in new friendships and in the process felt more alone than ever. These friends didn't love Jesus and at that time in my life, I didn't feel like Jesus loved me anymore. I began my life of singleness and my life became very lonely. I withdrew into myself and kept a lot of things on the inside. I finally got to a point one night in the middle of the night that I found myself on my knees crying in physical pain because of the deep hole that was in my heart. I hit rock bottom. Because of disapproval from others, I had pushed everyone away and found myself more alone than ever. I was heartbroken and crying before God that night - Where are you?? Why does this life hurt so much?? On my knees, broken, I was able to look up. I wish I could say from that day forward life began to get better. It didn't. But, I knew I was not alone. I knew that God was with me. He knew what I felt, how alone I was because He had felt that too at one point in His life here on earth. Everything we feel God has already experienced....brokenness, sadness, abandonment. He was the only one who could lift my head and say "I understand. I'm with You".
Psalm 16:11 David writes: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
When things around us feel out of control, when we feel scared, empty, alone, abandoned, we need to remember the lyrics of the song posted above: He is with is, He is with us, Always....Our God is with us. I've had that song in my head for the last few days, so I decided to share it with you. God put it on my heart for a reason - so maybe someone out there needs to know that God is with them. Share this with them. Maybe its you. The holidays can be a very lonely time of year due to divorce, death, hurt feelings, abandonment. But we must remember that God knows what He's doing even when we feel like He doesn't. Its a heart thing, not a head thing. He knows what He's doing and HE IS WITH US. It all comes down to TRUST. Do you Trust God??
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Watch this video - it tells the story of the writer of the song "It is Well with my soul". As I listened to this, I was brought to tears. This man lost everything! Everything...yet wrote a song that spoke of God's peace in his soul.
During this Holiday season, when someone says "Peace be with you", what does that mean to you? Have you ever really stopped and thought about God's peace? In the Bible, he references his peace like a river. Well, rivers can be calm and soothing, but they can also be wild and rapid!! Have you ever thought of peace in a wild and crazy life? Does it even seem possible? With God, it is. In my study this morning, I read several verses in Isaiah about Gods peace. The one that really stood out to me was Isaiah 48:17-18
"This is what the Lord says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, YOUR PEACE would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea""
If I had only paid attention. Well, that's eye opening right there. There are so many places in God's word that He instructs us on the way we should live. When we don't live God's way, we have chaos and trouble in our lives and we wonder why? If we live as God instructs, and go the way He tells us to go, we will have peace. Peace that nothing will take away - "whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul".
If you live each day wishing for peace, but are troubled on every side, consider this - Beth Moore wrote as a side note in the Bible study I'm doing "You must believe, bend the knee, and learn how to receive". God doesn't want to see His children in turmoil, but until we are willing to bend our knees before Him and release our troubles to Him, He can't bestow His peace on our hearts. What is holding you back from receiving your peace in Christ? What do you need to surrender to Him that you are holding onto? Get on your knees and give it to Him. Then peace like a river will wash over you.
Further scriptures to reference: Is 9: 6-7, 26:3, 32:17, 53:5, 54:10, 57:2, 60:17 (found in my Breaking Free Beth Moore Bible study)...take some time and read Gods word today
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Satisfied...what does that mean to you? Think about that word and consider what would make you satisfied: Food? Water? Clothes? Riches? Love? Are you ever truly satisfied? Answer honestly. As I ponder this thought, I wonder if I am satisfied. Am I satisfied with the life God has given me? Am I satisfied with the way things turned out or did I have a different plan?
We all dream as children of things we want to do, places we want to go, having a family and someone to love us - you know, the white picket fence, 2.5 kids (how does that happen??), dog, good job. We envision this life and think that is what will satisfy us. But, those are all just things. Things that can be removed, taken away, destroyed, lost. What do you do then? When all that is left is a hole that needs to be filled?
In Isaiah 55:2 its says "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good". This verse is perfect for this time of year - when wallets are stretched and hearts are aching and our eyes are focused on the wrong things. We try to buy all the things that we think will make us happy, satisfied. But, we know deep down that what we long for are springs of living water, food for our souls. God wants to fill us up with His love, His mercy, His grace and yet we rush around trying to buy things to fill the void in our lives. When you are thirsty, you have a physical reaction. What ends that thirst is a tall glass of water. When we are spiritually thirsty, we have a physical reaction - we become grumpy, cold hearted, angry, bitter, frustrated...oh the list could go on couldn't it? You know what I mean - you've seen it in the grocery store when someone grumbles because you got in their way. Or when your co-worker is in a bad mood and you say "you must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed". Those are the physical reactions to an unsatisfied soul.
How then, do we get satisfied? What do we do? We spend time with the one who can fill us up - Jesus. Jeremiah 31:25 says " I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint". God is there, waiting for you to let Him in. Revelation 3:20 "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If ANYONE hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me". Did you read that? ANYONE! This offer is to anyone who is hungry and thirsty. Anyone who is lonely. Anyone who is saddened. Whatever state you are in, Jesus says if you ask him he will fill you. He is the true living water that will quench your soul thirst. John 4: 13-14 says:
In the next few weeks before we celebrate his birth, think on this - am I satisfied? Will spending all this money and all of these gifts really satisfy me, or will spending time with Jesus fill that void in my heart? I'm not saying don't buy gifts, what I'm saying is - will they satisfy what is aching in your soul? Seek Him, ask Him to enter and fill you and He will.
Monday, December 2, 2013
This time of year is a time when we celebrate the birth of our savior. The Messiah who came to free us from our bondage. But, when you are chained down, its hard to lift your head and feel set free. Jesus said in John 8:34 "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin". Well, thanks Jesus... that's comforting to know! But, we know its true. We say something mean to someone, or we do something that disappoints another, we live in that feeling. When we sit at home alone feeling sorry for ourselves because we are tired and alone, we are living in our sin. We are chained and broken. As a slave we have no permanent family, but a son or daughter does. So, Jesus didn't stop at verse 34. No, read on, there is hope!!
John 8:36 "So if the son sets you free, you are free indeed!". Wow, read that again! If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. What does that mean to you? To me it means I am no longer held down, captive, in chains. If I take my brokenness, my disconnect, my hurts, my saddness, my lonliness, my unforgiveness, my unworthiness to the foot of the cross, to the feet of Jesus, He says I will be free. Don't you want to live in freedom? Don't you want to feel loved and secure in the family of Jesus? I do. So, why then do I carry around things from the past that have hurt me and kept me bound in chains? Why do I let those things take control over my thoughts? We can't change our past, but we can focus on our future, on our today.
If the Son sets you free, YOU are free indeed!!!! Amen