Tuesday, October 28, 2014

God's Eyes

Psalm 103:8-14
Living Bible

He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; he is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love. He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever. 10 He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, 11 for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. 13 He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him. 14 For he knows we are but dust.

I saw something recently that made me realize once again how much I don't understand God and who He is.  Yes, even in spite of my personal heritage and current role in life. 

How many reading this post has ever beat yourself up over past mistakes?  Have you ever felt unlovable?  How about that sense of self-worth...have any?  Most of us have struggled with these things for one reason or another.  Myself included.  I can look back, even into my childhood, and see things that may have hindered my understanding of God. 

I write today and freely admit that even as I have read the scripture passage above many times, and many others like it, I have had a really hard time applying them to myself.  I'm too aware of my shortcomings and failures to see how that could possibly apply to me. 

Interestingly enough though, just this morning in my prayer time, I asked God to let me see myself through His eyes.  This afternoon I was led to Psalms 103. 

The reader must agree that God purposefully showed me how He feels.  You are also seen through the lens of scripture.  His love and mercy is extended to me, you, and everyone else.  How can we be so sure?  Re-read Verse 8 - it's for everyone who does not deserve it.   

As God has once again proved His love to me, I trust someone else reading this also has a clearer picture of who they are in His eyes.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Am Weak

2 Corinthians 12:9-11
New Life Version

He answered me, “I am all you need. I give you My loving-favor. My power works best in weak people.” I am happy to be weak and have troubles so I can have Christ’s power in me. 10 I receive joy when I am weak. I receive joy when people talk against me and make it hard for me and try to hurt me and make trouble for me. I receive joy when all these things come to me because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It has been a while since I have posted on this blog.  While there has been the familiar urge every now and then, I have refrained.  The reason being that I have felt so weak at times.  And only a strong person should have something to say, right?   

Well, a thought that has been circling my brain for a couple months, just plopped itself right down and made itself at home this afternoon...

I know that everyone must feel weak and worn down and out at times.  In fact, my whole blog is about acknowledging the ups and downs of life.  The ups generally are never hard to handle.  The downs almost always are.  So, as I have struggled with my own sense of weakness, I have noticed strength in others.  There are particular people in my life in whom I see enormous strength.  I have often sat back and just thought "wow."  How do they do it?  Where do they find that strength? 

If I were to tell each of these people how strong they appear to me, I'm betting they would look very surprised.  Maybe they would think I didn't notice the difficulties they have faced, or the hard times they are going through. 

Of course, I have already given it away by mentioning 2 Corinthians 12:9.  There is definitely some strength going on.  But it is not our own.  I find it very interesting when one claims to be strong, without admitting weakness, that makes it sound like one is strong all on their own. 

I realize, of course, that my weakness is no weaker than anyone else's weakness.  The power of Christ in me is just as strong in me as I see it in others.  I am weak.  All of me needs all of Jesus.  I don't want someone to see strength in me without seeing weakness in me.  The strength is not my own - He is all I need.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

See the Invisible

Psalm 139:1-6
God's Word Translation

O Lord, you have examined me, and you know me.
You alone know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You read my thoughts from far away.
You watch me when I travel and when I rest.
    You are familiar with all my ways.
        Even before there is a single word on my tongue,
            you know all about it, Lord.
You are all around me—in front of me and in back of me.
    You lay your hand on me.
        Such knowledge is beyond my grasp.
        It is so high I cannot reach it.

Have you ever felt invisible?  I have.  There have been many times where I have cried in the frustration that the feeling brings.  Where you feel like people only see the shell of who you are - and completely miss the essence of who you are.  Why?  Because they don't see you.  You are invisible. 

Through some observations, including of my own life, I have come to realize that this feeling of invisibility comes from the shame and pain that one bears.  Shame, pain, hurt, confusion - you name it - has a way of isolating people.  Not too many people are willing to stand up and shout their burdens, and not too many people want to hear about them.  So, what do we do?  We put on our smiles.  We look like we are supposed to look.  We say, I'm fine, thank you.  Sometimes, the hurting are the ones encouraging others.  We hide.  We become invisible.

Only, no one really wants to be invisible!  As I have been contemplating all of these things, I came across the above passage.  I was struck by how un-invisible we are.  Whether God is close or far away, he sees us.  He knows us.  He touches us. 

I know that most of us will continue putting on our smiles, etc.  Me, included.  But, I think that for those of us who have ever felt invisible, or at least can imagine how that feels, we should put some spiritual x-ray glasses on look beyond the shell of people, and really see them.  Behind the smile, the perfect look, even the encouraging word, might be someone who needs to be seen. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thoughts, Plans & Relationship

Jeremiah 29:10-14

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

I have been reading in Jeremiah lately and came across this passage.  As I read verse 11, I recognized it as a "popular" verse that people like to quote and put on cups and pictures, etc.  Don't get me wrong, I love the verse myself.  I may even have a travel cup that has it written on it and I don't mind the reminder of the goodness of God at all!

What struck me is that so many times we become familiar with a particular verse and forget that there is a context, and by doing so lose some of its meaning.  In this case, the children of Israel were in captivity because of their unfaithfulness and disobedience to God.  But, God already had thoughts or plans for them.  He didn't just randomly have a good thought or plan - He just keeps His word.  Period.  And in spite of their shortcomings, He was going to fulfill His promise and word. 

And if you read past verse 11, you will see that the good thoughts and plans of God are not just a one sided deal.  God wanted a relationship with Israel, He wanted them to seek Him, and turn to Him.  I believe this is the same context we should be reading verse 11 today.  God does have good thoughts and plans for us - but how will we know what those are or see them fulfilled in our lives until we call upon Him and seek Him with all our hearts?  

Whether one is turning to God for the first time, or has been one of those who has read verse 11 with a little bit of spiritual smugness - we still need to call on, turn to, and seek God - so He can fulfill the promise of His word in our lives!  It is a relationship.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Forward March

Isaiah 59:19

19 So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

Just a short and hopefully sweet post here about letting the Lord fight the battle.  Sometimes after experiencing a mountaintop, the valley seems to come right up and smack you in the face.

And "enemy" seems like such a strong word.  We all know there is an enemy of our soul - but can we truly blame everything on him?  I would like to think I have no earthly enemies - although there has been a time or two that I've wondered.  A lot of times it is just life!  It happens!  In that case the enemy is discouragement and disappointment.

So, regardless of whatever "enemy" we face, if we get up, shake ourselves off, praise the name of the Lord, He will fight that enemy.  When we feel weak from our introduction to the valley, He will lift up a standard for us.  Forward march!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Psalm 51:10

Psalm 51:10

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

This is one of my favorite verses to pray.  I have learned over the years that you also have to be careful, truly, of what you ask for - I have, a time or two, prayed this somewhat nonchalantly.  There is nothing nonchalant about God's plan or will for us.  If you think about it - how would one have a clean heart created in them?  How would one's spirit be renewed to be right? 

Well, I can tell you.  It is not an overnight process.  Yes, God can speak things into existence, however; some things would not be what they are without a process.  In this case, I think it is safe to assume that the opposite of a clean heart is an unclean heart, and a right spirit - one with issues.  So, by my own experience (still continuing, I might add) the process of having a clean heart created in one's self is the painful digging out of the old stuff.  The stuff that keeps one held back from complete openness and communion with God.  Through the "process" of God creating a clean heart - our spirits can be renewed.  This frees us from the things that keep us down and tears down the walls that we build up for protection from hurts, etc.

While the process can be painful, the result is a closeness with God that replaces the walls that we build.  The things that the unclean heart and wounded spirit once struggled with become blurry through the haze of the presence of God in our clean heart and right spirit. 

If you have been here and done this - you are a witness of these things.  If you have never been here, pray this scripture and then let God begin the process...you will not regret it. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

God and Great Things

Job 37:5
(New Century Version)

God’s voice thunders in wonderful ways;
    he does great things we cannot understand.

I have always believed that God is God and being so, He is worthy of my praise and worship regardless of my circumstances.  When I've gone through rough spots and didn't feel like worshipping - I would praise anyway because He is God and worthy and that is a good enough reason to worship!  I would remind myself that He didn't need to actually do anything for me to deserve it - He just is God.  Period, end of story. 

Only, I realized recently that while this is certainly true, I cannot separate out who God is and what He does.  He does great things because He is God.  He is God and so He does great things!  It is who He is! 

I also found it interesting that the passage I chose is from the book of Job.  Job, of all people, knew what it was like to worship God in spite of his circumstances.  We may not always understand the way God does things.  Sometimes, we probably miss the great things because of our limited perspective.  But, this we do know - He is God, and He does great things.  The two are not mutually exclusive - in fact, they are one and the same.  He is worthy to be praised and worshipped for it!  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nothin' but a Thing

Jeremiah 17:7-8
(Living Bible)

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water—a tree not bothered by the heat nor worried by long months of drought. Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit.

As I was reading in Jeremiah this morning, I read over this passage and the meaning jumped out at me in such a way that I had to share. 

We all know, and I have written about it ad nauseam in this blog, life is full of trouble and trials, etc, etc.  While, of course, I do not  minimize anyone's problems, even my own, I can see that God has been gently speaking to me about my trust in Him.

Over the past week or so, I have been thinking about how doubt is really a form of believing - just a choice of what one is believing.  I have been contemplating my own doubts, which have been many...some of which included doubts about God. 

So, this morning when I read this, my soul jumped at the opportunity to trust with confidence.  To have the kind of trust that stands up to the heat and drought of life and just goes right along like those things are nothing at all. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Day!

Lamentations 3:22-23
The Living Bible

22 his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day.

January 1st, a day the majority of us reflect on the previous year, and look toward the new year with goals, dreams and plans.  Reflection is good.  It helps one build on the good things and learn from the bad things. 

In another sense, though, this day is just like every other day of the year.  In respect to the mercy and grace of God, His loving-kindness and compassion.  Every single day of this past year, I have counted on these things.  And in reflecting upon the year, I can see He has remained faithful.  I suspect that January 1st means a lot less to Him than it does to us.  He begins each day for us with a new, fresh dose of these things that we cannot live without. 

I look forward to this new year, to each new day, to more opportunities to know God's mercy and faithfulness.  Happy New Day!