Monday, February 27, 2012

All Powerful God

"For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
James 2:26

Do my actions and behavior mirror what I say I believe?

What I do in response to God when He invites me to join Him in His work reveals what I truly believe about Him. When He asks me to do something outside of my ability, outside of my financial means, something outside of what I can humanly accomplish so that He alone will be given the glory, do I respond with "Yes, Lord." or "Um, God I can't do that, you'll have to find someone else."? When I say that I believe that the Lord is my Provider, but I do not act as such, I am revealing what I truly believe. I so desperately want to live out what I say I believe, but it is so hard, and can be quite scary at times. And there it is, the fear, that keeps me from living out the beliefs that I say I have. If I am afraid does that not communicate to God and those around me that I do not trust Him or believe that He is All-Powerful God, my Provider, my Deliverer, my Rock, my Salvation. Do I recognize and acknowledge Your power? Do I believe that You are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The same God who displayed the magnitude of His power as He delivered the Israelite's out of Egypt? The same God who gave David victory over Goliath? The same God who came to earth as a babe, fully God and fully man, who healed the sick, who fed the five thousand, who died on the cross and three days later rose again? Do I live this life in light of the fact that I serve a risen Savior? Do I believe that You God have the same power that You did in the scriptures? 

Father God I want to live in light of Your power. I want to live out what I say I believe. I want Your glory to be displayed in my life, for this life is meant for You and You alone, for Your name to be praised and lifted up, for You to be seen not me. Use me Lord, mold me and make me, guide me and take me, be with me as I seek to glorify Your name and not my own.

Jesus thank you...
...for the sun shining and reflecting off snow and shining through windows.
...for weekends full of laughter with my husband.
...for the promise of spring and warmer weather.
...for peace in the midst of the chaos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Beautfiul Journey of Marriage

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

1 Corinthians 13

Matthew and I celebrated our one year anniversary about a week and a half ago and I was reflecting on these verses that were read at our wedding ceremony. They have always spoken to me and challenged me and I have struggled to live them out in my daily life for as long as I can remember. And yet Love is not just an action, it is a Person, and I must step back and allow the Love that is Christ overflow from myself rather than trying to love on my own. I cannot love, I am a selfish being and love is an unselfish act and attitude. Only through Christ living in and through me will love be displayed through my life. This love will cast out fear (1 John 4:18), it is a safe haven, it is home. What a beautiful place to call home, what a wonderful attitude to rest in, to be found surrounded in this Love. And yet to live out love is hard. It means putting aside my selfish heart that rears its ugly head and giving of myself unconditionally for another, for my husband. 

I have learned so much about myself over the past year. Living with another person really brings to light your selfish side and your many failings that you might have been able to ignore and hide before. Matthew has taught me so much about myself, he has opened my eyes to areas of sin in my life and through God's grace I am giving them over to my Savior. Marriage has brought me closer to the Lord, through the struggles and joys I have come to know Matthew and my Savior more has been a truly beautiful experience. It is hard, it stretches and molds, it breaks and rebuilds, it sheds light on places that you didn't even know needed light and then you are faced with a choice. Will I let God mold me, rebuild me? Will I let Him use my marriage to teach me about Himself? Will I let Him chisel away even when it hurts and it's hard? Will I seek Him above all else and rest in His provision or will I expect Matthew to fulfill every need knowing that in doing so I am setting him up for failure because only God can fulfill every desire and every need of my heart? Matthew is my husband, he is not and can never be my god. Matthew is the man the Lord designed for me, created for me, we are one. And yet without Christ at the center and permeating every aspect of our marriage we are nothing, we are nothing without Christ. He is what holds us together, what draws us closer to one another, He is what we are to seek above anything and anyone else. He is our Guiding Light, our Provider, our Comforter. He is our LORD, our life, He is Jehovah. 

This is a song that I have heard several times over the years, but this past weekend was the first time that I've heard it since we got married so I thought I would share it with you. It is a duet by Newsong & Natalie Grant, When God Made You.

Happy Valentine's Day my darling husband. I love you so much!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oh My Selfish Heart...Go Away!

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Matthew 7:7&8 do I live out belief? Do I pray believing that the Lord will answer me? Or do I pray because that's just what you do and then am I surprised when a prayer is answered? Father help me in my unbelief! I want to pray in the spirit of belief. In faith, believing that You will answer but knowing that Your answer might not be the answer that I want. To pray with open hands and a open spirit, "Not my will but Yours be done Father God". What a beautiful way of spending time with my speaking and in silence, sharing my turmoil and resting in His sovereignty, in quiet places and in the business of life. To pray in a spirit of joy, peace, patience, love, thankfulness, giving, trust, openness. To give all over to my Father and to not carry around the burden of prayers I feel have gone unanswered, but to acknowledge that His ways are higher than my ways and to be grateful that He cares for every prayer, spoken and unspoken.

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed You, or thirst, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invited You in, or naked, and clothes You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'"
Matthew 25:34-40

What a generous heart described in these verses above! What a high calling and yet one I am not expected to do on my own. I long to give in a manor that pleases and gives glory to my Father, and yet when I commit to a spirit of generosity I find that my selfish side just about boils over! Why am I selfish? Why does that ugly voice enter my head "Oh but you could spend that time watching a movie and catching up on sleep rather than investing your time in others." "Why are you giving away all those cookies that just made the house smell so good? You should keep more for yourself." "You could buy yourself a new scarf with that money instead of putting it in the offering plate." And the list could go on and on! Why do my selfish desires rear their ugly head at the most inopportune times?! Because I view this life as mine...and it's not. Because I see life filled with "my time, my work, my money, etc." when it's really filled with "God's time, God's work, and God's money, etc." This life is a God given gift, will I treat it as such? Will I start the day in a spirit of thankfulness for another day that He has given me? With eyes that are always watching for His work, His will, His ways, His character? Will I daily give over the rights I feel I have and open up myself to whatever He has in store, rather than planning out "my" day according to my desires and needs? Will I trust that He knows my needs, and yet at the same time that He is big enough to overcome them? 

Jesus I offer up today, grant me eyes to see You, ears to hear You, and strength to follow You. Thank You for the opportunity to live this life that You have given me. Thank You for walking with me and never leaving me to figure things out on my own even when I forsake you and try to live this life on my own. Thank You for Your grace that is daily given, for Your forgiveness that is always waiting for repentance, for Your love that is never failing, for Your word that is living and breathing and the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me and guides me. 

Thank you Lord...
for energy given when eyelids are heavy.
for hot water and bubbles in sink to clean dirty dishes.
for floors in need of mopping from muddy winter boots.
that You can overcome my selfish desires.
for Your spirit working in the midst of my struggling.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Delight Yourself in the LORD

Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate (feed on His) faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him and He will do it.

Rest (be still) in the LORD and wait patiently (longingly) for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.

Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.

But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

Better is the little of the righteous 
Than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
But the LORD sustains the righteous. 
The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.

The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
But the righteous is gracious and gives.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his ways.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.

Wait for the LORD and keep His way.

Psalm 37:3-5, 7-9, 11, 16-18, 21, 23-24, 34

Delight, Webster's defines delight as : to take great pleasure/to give keen enjoyment/to give joy or satisfaction to. Delight yourself in the LORD. Take great pleasure in the Lord, give keen enjoyment to the Lord, give joy or satisfaction in the Lord. This passage is full of convicting, directing and loving words of promise. not fret...humility...the Lord sustains...gracious...wait. I've been struggling through trust, trying to dig deeper into the word, the attitude, the living of trust. Dwell, He has placed me right where I am for a specific reason, will I dwell? Will I be where He has me and not long for something different? Will I be all here, not seeking for more or less or different, will I just be here? Delight, oh to delight myself in the Lord, no matter what is going on around me to delight in the Lord alone. To not seek joy outside of Christ, because the joy of Christ is a joy that far exceeds the joy of this world, the joy of circumstance. That joy is empty and will fade. But the joy that is found when I delight myself in my Savior is a joy that will last, that will hold, that will keep me no matter what comes my way. Commit your way to the LORD. Will I commit to Him my ways, will I seek His direction, will I let Him guide and commit to not move until He gives the directions? Will I rest, will I be still? I am beginning to learn the importance of being still. This world moves so fast that it can be hard to keep up, so many things are vying for our attention and yet He just asks us to be still. To step out of the craziness of life and give Him time. He longs for my time, my relationship, my conversation, my willing heart. Do not fret. Something I learned from a friend while I was at Capernwray concerning "do not fret" really opened my eyes and I have clung to these words "Fret - to be consumed by. It is like temptation, it will always be there (the desire, the pull to fret, to worry - see Matthew 6:25-34) but I can choose whether I am going to be consumed by the fretting/worrying or not". I am faced with the choice daily it seems, am I going to fret or will I trust? What does it mean to be humble? When I think of biblical humility I think of Philippians 2:1-8 where Paul speaks on the humility of Christ, and since I am to follow Christ's example this is where I turn when I am seeking direction concerning humility. The LORD sustains. I love this statement. It gives me such hope, such joy, such confidence. To be gracious, to give out of faith. This is the attitude I want to have when it comes to giving, whether to the church, to those in need that I know or don't know, I want to give out of faith, trusting that the Lord will provide for us all. Wait. Oh what a word, wait. I don't always do well with waiting. I am trying to do better, but often I try in my own strength and not in the strength of my Father.

Father God thank you so much for this psalm, thank you for revealing Yourself to me this morning. Thank you for the direction and focus that You have given me through these verses. Thank you for the sun that is shining bright, for the clean dishes waiting to be put away, and for the dust bunnies that are ready for the swiffer!